Nisa-Today's non-executive chairman Mark Pullen said the proposals, which went to consultation at the organisation's annual exhibition in Stoneleigh last week, were "not about right or wrong, but about focus". He said retail arm Nisa would not consider the Today's Group which is expanding its retail club as a potential competitor because the crossover was too small. "In any case, we have run the Today's Group autonomously for years. Members are telling us it is what they want. "
His comments were echoed by Bill Laird, managing director of the Today's Group.
Neil Turton, Nisa-Today's CEO, admitted there was a risk that independents would "see us as two smaller companies, but we must make the case that this will be outweighed by the benefits."
He said Nisa's focus was to build a coherent customer brand to the same level as Spar. "They have been better than us at this, but we want to get to the same level and beyond quickly," he said. "Our aim is to be locally specific and instantly identifiable."
One way of achieving this will be through repeating the successful TV advertising campaign, which was seen by 25 million consumers earlier this year. The campaign resulted in a 40% uplift in the featured promotions. "New customers hadn't appreciated our price or range it was an undiscovered secret." Another aspect of the adverts which resonated with the public was the voiceover's emphasis on 'your local retailer', Turton added.
Nisa has gained about 190 new members over the past year, and lost 93 mainly resulting from members selling up, such as the Mills Group. "It's a challenge getting the Mills business back, but we're clawing back the 2% of lost volume," Turton said.