The Co-operative Group has admitted it does not know when it expects regulatory clearance of its proposed takeover of Nisa, with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) yet to launch an investigation into the deal.

After Nisa members approved the proposed takeover last November, the Co-op Group said it expected approval by the end of March. However, a CMA spokeswoman has described the claim as “speculation”.

A Co-op spokesman told C-Store the group was “pretty much” in the dark over an expected clearance date, but added: “Hopefully we’ll get an indicative feel over when it’s going to happen in the next week or so.”

Costcutter is also expected to make a full transition to the Co-op as its new supply partner in April, but chief executive Darcy Willson-Rymer said that the supply map of how deliveries to stores will be accomplished cannot be made clear until the CMA has given its final ruling.

“We have agreed service levels with the Co-op, but we will have to wait and see what the CMA says about the Nisa takeover first,” he explained. “After that it will be up to the Co-op to work out the best way to service our stores.”

Nisa retailer Rav Garcha, who owns five stores in the West Midlands, said: “I’ve had no communication about what’s going on, but the uncertainty isn’t a problem. I’d rather Costcutter retailers were the guinea pigs in a way! But I doubt Costcutter will be supplied before the Nisa deal goes through. But I still feel optimistic.”

Harj Dhasee, owner of Nisa Mickleton Village Stores in Gloucestershire, said: “We are in the same boat: no idea. I’m hoping it will be clear after Easter – it’s business as usual at the moment but I’m already looking at changes we will need to make going forward in terms of how to maximise the benefits of the Co-op range.”