Nisa retailers have told betterRetailing that increased prices across own-label and branded products have left them uncompetitive.

Data seen by betterRetailing showed a number of wholesale price increases across Co-op own-label products since 2019. For example, the unit cost of Cherryade rose by 15p, Pineapple Slices by 25p and Frozen Garlic Baguettes by 23p.

According to Nisa partners, who asked to remain anonymous, the increases were made across the 2,500-line Co-op own-label range, as well as a number of branded products.

One retailer told betterRetailing: “Margins on confectionery are down to 11% now. When you go to a rival cash and carry, it’s 20% on price-marked products.

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“How can they increase the wholesale price without adjusting the price-mark accordingly? I want to understand the method behind the price increases.”

Another Nisa partner added: “There’s a lot of growing wholesale costs at Nisa, which aren’t in line with the rest of the market in product categories such as milk, bread and own label. Partners are paying for that and a lot of them are moving their buying away from Nisa as a result.

“Some of the wholesale price increases are as high as 40%, but prices aren’t going up that much in the rest of the market. I’ve stopped buying some products from Nisa because I’ve found them cheaper elsewhere.”

Another Nisa retailer added that the increases had impacted on the overall basket spend in their stores. “We hardly make any margin and now feel forced to sell Dolmio at £2.40, for example. The cost for an entire meal for a customer can come to £15.

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“It gives us a bad name because the nearby Marks & Spencer is cheaper. I’ve compared the costs and you get a higher margin at a rival cash and carry. It’s shocking to find that some price-marked products at a cash and carry carry a higher margin than non-price-marked products from Nisa.”

Asked by betterRetailing to explain the increases and how they are helping partners remain competitive without reducing margin, a Nisa spokesperson responded: “Nisa’s 2,500-line own-label proposition is the most comprehensive in the wholesale sector.

“This is reflected in the incredible partner demand we’ve seen since the Co-op range was launched, and both the growing level of participation and growth in new partner numbers.

“The Co-op brand delivers quality and value for money at increased margin versus the branded equivalent. As we face further economic uncertainty, we’re confident continued growth in our own-label business will offer the customers of Nisa partners a saving, while supporting partner profitability.”

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