Much of the independent convenience store sector is resigned to multiple-led consolidation in the wake of the proposed Tesco/Booker deal and Sainsbury’s interest in Nisa.

The mooted industry shake-out, which could see Tesco and Sainsbury’s supply a huge swathe of the independent sector, has been greeted with a mixture of cynicism, scepticism, resignation and anxiety.

Vip Panchmatia, owner of Hexagon Stores in Andover, Hampshire, believes it is difficult to know what will happen until all the terms are on the table. “It depends how the supermarkets look after their own interests and whether they do so ahead of the independents they supply.

“At the moment, manufacturers like to supply the convenience market. I think consolidation is worrying just as Sainsbury’s was worried by Booker’s proposed deal with Tesco, which is why it is looking at Nisa.”

Vip hopes it does not spell the end of the independent sector. “It would be a shame, because independents make decisions in the interest of their community, and supermarkets don’t.”

Justin Taylor, owner of Spar Winford in Somerset, believes a cull of symbol fascias could ensue. “It will be interesting to see which fascias Tesco chooses to keep or retire.”

He believes consolidation is inevitable and that pressure on pricing could result with the combined buying power of Booker and Tesco and possibly Nisa and Sainsbury’s.

Mukesh Patel, owner of Simply Local Moat Stores in Malvern, Worcestershire, believes that being unaffiliated may not be an option in future.

“Massive changes are happening to the benefit of the big boys. Some people say independents will get better buying power, but when the multiples squeeze suppliers, what’s the guarantee they will pass the benefits down to us?

“Even symbol groups don’t do that. Every group has to make money to cover their costs and they are doing so.”

Symbol success

“I recently moved to Premier after being unaffiliated. In the current market it’s inevitable if you want to compete. Sainsbury’s and Nisa will happen, as will Booker and Tesco. ”

Mayur Patel, Saxon Fields Store, Andover, Hampshire

”I’m optimistic but can see difficulties for unaffiliated independents. I think everyone will become affiliated eventually.”

Angela Chilvers, co-owner of Londis Heminbrough, 
Selby, North Yorkshire

Three tiers of supply for nisa

Sainsbury’s is conducting due diligence on an exclusive basis before making a formal offer for Nisa, which would then have to be approved by both the board and the group’s members.

Should the offer go ahead, the multiple is likely to offer members a three-tier supply model comprising a disciplined model, similar to a franchise; a middle tier whereby retailers don’t trade as Sainsbury’s, but can stock the multiple’s own-label; and an independent tier whereby retailers trade without any Sainsbury’s branding, but still benefit from the increased scale.