Nisa Retail has relaxed its criteria for symbol group members wishing to refit to the Store of the Future 2 format in order to accelerate its uptake among the membership and enable sites to offer a more bespoke and cost-effective proposition.

Around 300 stores have been refitted to the latest specification to date, but future refits will be offered in a modular format rather than a strict total specification so that retailers do not need to commit to large expenditure in a single hit. As a result, the group is hoping to remodel a further 250 stores this year following the latest ‘look and feel’ guidelines, which include new cladding, ‘goalpost’ fixtures and fully-integrated food to go units.

Stores would still be required to display the external Nisa fascia, but will be given the flexibility to pick and choose which internal elements they adopt.

Nisa’s head of format & development Darren May said: “The options we’re bringing to the table are sector-leading, and through our modular approach we’re making them available for a range of business types and budgets, encapsulating the ethos of Nisa as being for the many, not the few, and the partner of choice for retailers and wholesalers.”

The group has recruited a total of 545 new stores during the year to April 5, a net increase of 111. These figures include 140 new sites opened by existing members, plus 90 of the 298 stores being transferred over from the Co-op Group to the McColl’s Retail Group.

Nisa is confident of meeting its EBITDA target of £8.5m this year, subject to audit. Sales in the fourth quarter were £299m, up 2.2% like for like on last year, with non-tobacco sales up 4.9%. This growth was on the back of strong Christmas trading, which delivered an uplift of 2.7%, according to ceo Nick Read.

“I am very happy to see sales and recruitment on an upward trajectory, giving us real momentum coming out of Q4,” Read said. “I am pleased to report further progress against our three-year strategic plan to focus on Heritage, range optimisation and lowering our cost to serve, while targeting greater scale.”

The development of the Heritage brand is ongoing, including the launch this month of Heritage wine. The new range - available in chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, shiraz, merlot and rose styles - retails at £4.99, with a promotional price of £4.49.