All Costcutter stores have now transitioned into the new Co-op/Nisa supply chain and will shortly be receiving their first order of Co-op own brand products.

In common with Nisa stores, Costcutter outlets will initially have access to around 800 Co-op own brand lines for a three-month introductory period, with a wider range available later in the year. Posters and shelf talkers have been produced highlighting the fact that Co-op products are available in-store.

Stores selling Co-op products will be subject to a brand audit, to ensure they maintain the required standards, covering areas such as presentation, labelling, customer communication, date codes and temperature controls. Retailers will not be allowed to sell Co-op products above a defined maximum price level.

Costcutter has lost around 400 member stores in the past year in the run-up to and immediate aftermath of the collapse of former distribution partner P&H, taking the estate to 1,776 stores. However, chief executive Darcy Willson-Rymer said that there was a “strong pipeline” of retailers enquiring about joining the group. A company-owned store trialling a Co-op franchise has seen sales rise by 67%, and this will continue to be monitored before extending the programme to independent retailers, he added.

Willson-Rymer maintained that the company’s Shopper First initiative, whereby retailers can receive precise demographic information tailored uniquely to their individual store catchment, will be a vital tool in forging a point of difference for the symbol group.

“We want to be famous for a proven ability to grow retailers’ sales, using tools like Shopper First,” he continued. “We can help retailers to run their business their way, and make their lives easier by saving them time. We want to continue to build a community of independent retailers where they can learn from each other, and to be the best convenience offer in the marketplace.”

A new, simplified terms package has also come into operation, meaning retailers can earn up to 6% of the value of their purchases in rebates.

Willson-Rymer added: “2017 was a pivotal year for us. It was extremely difficult, but we navigated it, and remain one of the few truly independent companies helping independent retailers.”