The Nisa-Today's board has turned down an approach by Bibby Line Group to acquire the wholesale and retail business.

An official statement said that the bid had been rejected unanimously because it represented "a significant undervaluation of Nisa-Today's and would have meant demutualisation of the company".

A counter statement from Bibby said that the offer was worth over £1,000 per share, with "an opportunity to retain ownership in the business".

However, industry insiders believe the takeover bid was made as a defensive measure because Bibby is on the brink of losing its distribution agreement with Nisa-Today's. Sources expect DHL to be awarded the ambient distribution contract for the group to go with its existing supply deals for chilled and frozen lines within a matter of weeks.

One Nisa retailer who asked not to be named told C-Store that members were 100% against any sale of the company: "Trading is really positive at the moment and growth has been strong for a number of years despite many major retailers leaving the group. There's no need for any major capital injection and no appetite to abandon mutual status."

A new distribution deal could however create complexity within the group, as Bibby owns 51% of Costcutter, which accounts for 40% of Nisa volume.

Nisa Today's is to return £500,000 in trading surplus to members this month. Group sales reached a record level of £1.27bn for the year ending march 2009, up 11% on the previous year.