Nisa is enjoying the opportunity to undergo a “modernisation phase” with membership changes and a new focus following the split with the Today’s Group, chief executive Neil Turton confirmed to C-Store last week.

Speaking at the group’s annual show at Stoneleigh, Turton said that although the loss of large members such as Mills and Haldanes represented a hit in group volume of 6%, total figures for the last financial year were down only 1.5%, with sterling sales up 3%.

“It’s a fact of life that some members will sell out from time to time,” said Turton. “In the coming year or two the loss of David Sands and Harry Tuffins will also wash through for a combined volume loss of 1.6%, although we are still supplying both chains for the time being. So we have lost 6-8% of longstanding volume, but in recent years our growth has been an average of 8% a year and we’ve already pulled a lot back.

“The answer is to recruit new members and help our existing members to sell more and to be more loyal, and we’ve been successful in all three of these areas,” he continued. “A lot of newer members are smaller, so we have to change in order to service these new stores, but our new distribution contract has reduced costs so significantly that we can invest our way out of the issue.”

The group has invested this year in keener pricing for fresh produce to attract family meal shoppers to Nisa stores, and also in key impulse and grocery lines to encourage retail members to use cash and carries less.

Turton added that the split from the Today’s Group had given Nisa an opportunity to refresh conversations with suppliers, and to bring new people in to the business.

A further key priority for the year was to resolve the supply agreement with Costcutter, he said. With just over two years left to run on the current deal, he felt that this summer would be “crucial”.

“We are talking about how our needs and their needs can be met,” he added.