Ahead of an exclusive interview appearing in the Grocer magazine, we got the chance to catch up with Nisa Chief Executive Ken Towle to get an update on how the wholesale operation is going.

It’s been a very busy 3 months since we completed our acquisition of Nisa on 8 May. Not only have we experienced the best summer trade period for a long time, but we’ve made good progress integrating Nisa into the Co-op family.

So what’s been happening?

As well as the great work going on to align the two businesses, we’ve worked incredibly hard to make an initial range of over 800 Co-op products available to Nisa partners over a phased roll-out. Partners have had two of those phases and are currently buying into the third which will land in stores in September. The final phase will take place in November.

The roll-out is gathering pace and partner feedback is positive, with Co-op brand is now beginning to appear on the shelves of Nisa partners’ stores up and down the country.


The total range on offer includes:

  • Our high quality award-winning products including sandwiches, pizzas and wine
  • Products which aren’t currently available within Nisa’s Heritage own brand range
  • Everyday essentials where we can deliver better value for money

Nisa has also begun to supply Costcutter Supermarkets Group, and the 1,500 stores in its network, following the wholesale agreement we signed in November 2017.

Fit for the future

Convenience will continue to be the fastest growing sector in UK grocery and we’re in a great place to capitalise on this, as Ken explains.

“Nisa and Co-op’s combined scale, vision and ambition is a great opportunity for us all and I’m excited about bringing the best of our businesses together.”

There’s lots to do but we’re up for the task.

“By combining our buying power and extending benefits to more customers and to potential new wholesale partners, together, we’ll strengthen our presence in wholesale convenience”.

Join the conversation! 10 Comments

  1. I seem to remember the original quote / rationale for the acquisition of the Wholesale arm was

    “when we have this it will be a new channel for our goods, which will increase our sales”

    But if we loose sales from our own stores, and further, receive less profit back from the sales of goods sold. How is that benefitting us.

    Somebody needs to learn economics.

    • Wholesale expands the reach of Co-op brand overall, putting more Co-op products in more places for more customers to buy them – from 5,000 stores (Co-op and FRTS) to potentially over 9,000 stores with wholesale customers from Nisa and Costcutter.

  2. Hi I work in the insurance business, so know nothing about food pricing, but note this dilemma. I assume that the risk that Nisa price our products lower than Co-op was assessed as part of the decision making, and overall it was decided that the downside of this was outweighed by the upside from the Nisa deal overall?
    To your point David, although we are not able to influence Nisa’s retail pricing, presumably there is nothing to stop us monitoring Nisa retail prices, such that we could reduce our prices / match pricing? And that it is purely a question of brand impact vs cost of implementing this/lost margin?

  3. Purchases of Co-op branded items by Co-op members in Co-op shops adds 1p in the £ to the Co-op Local Community Fund, which supports local good causes.

  4. I think we need to look at the product pricing issue. I have noticed even with my staff discount Pizzas and ready meals are cheaper at NISA than my Coop. It will probably break even if I factor in the 5% cashback Coop give us, but still it’s less travel to my local NISA – Also products that are branded 2 for £7 etc. are confusing when NISA are selling them as singles but adding 2 x product came to £6.25

  5. Think it’s disgusting that Nisa stores are selling coop products cheaper not good when coop and nisa stores are 5 mins walk away from each other only a matter of time that nisa will take coop customers away 😡

    • Under competition law we can’t set the pricing – Nisa stores aren’t owned by us. As independent retailers they’re free to set their own prices. This is to make sure customers still have choice – a condition of the CMA approval of our acquisition of Nisa.

      Also, there are plenty of other differences between a Nisa and Co-op store too, including ranging and Co-op membership, which isn’t available in Nisa stores.

      • So even though we own Nisa we can’t set prices. How are they independent if we “acquired” them? And are able to use our co-op discount cards in Nisa stores?

        • We bought the Nisa wholesale business. Nisa doesn’t own or run the stores as they are managed by independent retailers.

          Co-op Membership isn’t applicable in Nisa stores.

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