According to weekend newspaper reports, J Sainsbury has entered into exclusive discussions to acquire Nisa Retail for £130m.

Sainsbury’s will now conduct due diligence before making a formal offer for Nisa, and any offer would have to be accepted by more than 50% of shareholders in order for it to proceed.

Neither Nisa nor Sainsbury’s has commented on the situation.

Nisa recently appointed asset management firm Lazard to advise the organisation, increasing speculation that a business restructuring or full sale might be proposed to the membership in the near future.

Chief executive Nick Read’s three-year business plan for Nisa includes an aspiration to build scale in the business and take annual sales to £2bn. C-Store understands that the group’s board has received several approaches from other organisations in the industry in recent months, ranging from partnership proposals to a full takeover, and that Lazard would be able to provide expert advice in how to evaluate opportunities to restructure the group.

However, any proposed takeover or merger would be agonising for retail members, and at least one member group is currently circulating email messages calling for the removal of the executive team and their replacement with a board of directors committed to mutuality.