Nisa retailers based outside densely populated cities will receive more support for deliveries and fresh products as part of the wholesaler’s 2019 growth plans.

CEO Ken Towle, who joined in May following the approved Co-op takeover, said the increased scale will contribute to the strategy. “Next year, we’ll look at the assets we share with Co-op and leverage this to keep our costs and prices for retailers low,” he said.

“The opportunities will be around the edges of the UK and Ireland, in areas such as the south west of England, the Scottish Highlands or Northern Ireland.”

When asked how Nisa retailers would receive support in differentiating from nearby Co-op stores, Towle added that it would come from fresh and local products. “Nisa is a very flexible and diverse business,” he said.

“We want to help support them with ranging targeted at local communities that Co-op can’t provide.” 

Since Co-op’s takeover, 1,600 of the multiple’s own-label products have been made available alongside Nisa’s Heritage range as part of a four-stage rollout.

The Heritage range will be examined closely next year, but there are no plans to discontinue it.

“We have seen some reduction in the Heritage range due to replacements from Co-op alternatives and one of our meat suppliers stopping production,” said Towle. “However, we’re still happy with the performance and we won’t discontinue the range if it’s generating sales for our retailers.

“Customers have a budget in mind and, if they can get an alternative own label for cheaper, they’ll spend more or come back more frequently because of the savings.”

Towle added that Nisa will continue working with Costcutter retailers to help them “get the best from Nisa and Co-op”, while it is working out how to make its current chilled and fresh supply contract with Bargain Booze “more sustainable”.