Nisa has achieved strong growth in its latest annual results with value sales up 10.5% and volumes up 12.9%.

Sales during the Christmas period peaked at 16.4% growth year on year. The group recruited 692 stores in the last 12 months and claims that, on average, retailers who join Nisa see a sales uplift of 10% within the first year.

Garry Brailsford, manager of a Nisa Local in Exeter said “We purchased the store in April 2006 when it was run as a Spar turning over about £7,000 a week, which we fairly quickly got to about £11,000. Now, we’ve got it to about £25,000 and it became a Nisa Local in November last year.”

Nisa chief executive Neil Turton told C-Store that Nisa was approaching the summer’s key transition, when Costcutter leaves the group and begins a new national supply arrangement with P&H, with a bid to “raise its game on everything” and “to re-imagine the company how you’d like it to be today, rather than as a product of history”. With this in mind, the group is investing in service levels, redefining its store formats, restructuring its management team and reformulating its Heritage own-brand range.

Recent transition problems for Costcutter in Northern Ireland, where a data error was blamed for huge shortfalls in the number of products available through P&H depots, have encouraged the Nisa team to keep the full fleet of vehicles and drivers in place at a cost of £1m despite mainland Costcutter stores switching to P&H deliveries across the UK from 2 July.

Nisa’s peak week for delivery last summer was 2.6 million cases, and the group has capacity for 2.85 million this year despite the potential loss of thousands of Costcutter members.

“By the time Costcutter parts, we want to be on top of things completely,” Turton told C-Store. “We will behave as if nothing has changed, so it will be easy for Costcutter members to choose to stay with us if they want to. We want service levels to be perfect, so there will be no issues if demand goes up in hot weather or for the World Cup.”

Two new ‘store of the future’ concepts are also being tested in Peterborough and Cardiff, with ranges and layouts based on shopper missions, a new look and feel to the stores and innovations such as media screens, in-store wi-fi and new food to go concepts.