Nisa and Food Force Ireland (FFI) have settled their differences and entered into a new business agreement.

The two organisations were on a collision course earlier this year when Nisa announced plans to open an office in Northern Ireland to negotiate directly with local suppliers, effectively competing with FFI, whose members are all also Nisa shareholders. This followed an earlier takeover bid by Nisa, which FFI members rejected.

The new agreement means Nisa will continue to refer members to FFI and those members will be free to decide which way they want to trade locally, either by invoicing direct from supplier on FFI terms or Nisa central invoicing - which will be handled by the new Northern Ireland office team.

FFI chairman Henry Emerson said he was pleased to see a positive outcome to negotiations.

“Food Force Ireland and Nisa have had a long and fruitful partnership which has been mutually beneficial to both parties,” he commented. “I’m pleased that this will continue on the basis of clarity and agreement, and look forward to continuing the relationship well into the future.”

Nisa chairman Christopher Baker added: “It is extremely satisfying to reach a positive agreement between Nisa and Food Force Ireland which will provide even greater benefits to members and an increased route to market for local suppliers. There is a long standing relationship between Nisa and Food Force Ireland and it speaks volumes about the strength of our relationship that we’ve extended that further. This will mean greater choice for retailers and a strong local sourcing capability.”