Nisa Retail has revealed that it is in exclusive talks with the Co-operative Group about a possible offer for the Scunthorpe-based distributor.

In a letter to members, Nisa chairman Peter Hartley confirmed that the two parties had held “pragmatic and constructive” talks in recent weeks, following the Co-op’s reaffirmation of interest in making a bid for Nisa, and that the Board has granted the Society a period of exclusive due diligence starting from today (August 30).

“During these discussions the Co-op has confirmed, subject to further due diligence, its intention to progress matters as quickly as possible, in the hope that a transaction can be finalised,” Hartley continued. “The Co-op is willing to incur costs on its own account to do this.”

The group recently ended a similar period of exclusivity with Sainsbury’s, as the supermarket chain wanted to wait for the outcome of the competition authority’s ruling on the proposed Tesco-Booker merger before making a bid. While an offer from the Co-op is not guaranteed, Hartley added that “it is anticipated that the Co-op could be in a position to make a final offer to the Members for (your) consideration”.

Any offer would be subject to approval by member shareholders of Nisa. Hartley added: “As you are all aware our business and the convenience sector continue to evolve at pace and the Board of Nisa will continue to review serious queries and offers which emerge (within the constraints of any agreed exclusivity period) and which it believes are in the best long-term interest of the Members.”