Many Costcutter-affiliated retailers are growing in optimism ahead of the upcoming supply deal with the Co-op Group.

Roadshows to brief members about the changes are ongoing, with more detailed one-to-one meetings to follow next month, before a full transition in April.

Retailers contacted by C-Store are generally upbeat about present and future supply arrangements, with many satisfied with their interim deliveries following the collapse of Palmer & Harvey in December.

Simon Lunn, of Simply Fresh Axbridge, Somerset, said: “I’m feeling much more optimistic than I was a month ago. A rep from Simply Fresh came to see me in the store as I couldn’t make the local roadshow.

“I’m really looking forward to receiving Co-op produce and to see how pricing will be affected as things have been slightly more expensive since moving to Nisa.”

Philip Moutray, of Costcutter Moygashel in Northern Ireland, said: “We switched to Nisa from Musgrave about four weeks ago. It’s going well; availability is great and the range has improved. I’ve recently paid more attention to the Co-op own brand and I’m impressed. I’m really looking forward to being supplied by the Co-op.

“My business development manager has been communicating with me regularly. I went to the roadshow in Armagh, and everything was answered that could be answered.”

Costcutter and Simply Fresh retailer Chaz Chahal said: “Deliveries have been really good. Nisa has reinvigorated business with a better supply solution. And with the Co-op we’ll get access to the breadth of product we’ve been lacking.”

Ricky Turner, manager of Simply Fresh Surrey University, added: ”Supply is working out well with Nisa and we will soon be moving over to the Co-op, which should give us a really robust supply chain. Everything is looking up and we’re feeling positive.”

Sue Nithyanandan, owner of Costcutter Epsom, Surrey, was also upbeat. “It’s gone full circle now that we’re being supplied by Nisa again. There’s been a few shortages of goods, but nothing compared with P&H. We’re excited about the future,” she said.

But Sat Deo has opted to switch his three Costcutter stores in Yorkshire to Spar. “Nisa deliveries have been okay, but we’ve decided to move. Lots of retailers have lost confidence in the leadership from head office. We’ve been promised too many things that haven’t been fulfilled,” he said.

Building Scale

Assuming that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) eventually clears the acquisition of Nisa, which was approved by Nisa shareholders last November, the Co-op Group will soon be buying and supplying on behalf of more than 6,000 convenience stores across the UK, taking in the shops operated by Costcutter and Nisa retailers and regional co-operative societies as well as its own outlets.

Research indicated that 43% of shoppers said they were more likely to visit a Costcutter store when/if the Co-op own-label is stocked there.