The board of Scunthorpe-based Nisa Retail Limited, the member-owned retail and wholesaling group, has unanimously recommended to its shareholders an offer of up to £137.5 million from Manchester-based Co-op Group.
Co-op would take on the existing Nisa debt of £105 million.
“The offer, if successful, would bring significant immediate and long-term value for Nisa members, access to greater scale, access to the award-winning Co-op range — including the Co-op own label proposition, retention of their independence of operating their stores how they want, while also enabling them to remain part of a member-owned organisation within the growing UK convenience retail sector …” said the Co-op Group in a statement.
“The acquisition of Nisa would also bring clear benefits for the Co-op, allowing it to strengthen its presence in the wholesale convenience sector, in turn enhancing its scale and buying power for the benefit of all customers, while extending the reach of the Co-op brand into new communities.
“It would also provide the opportunity to support like-minded independent retailers, with a clear sense of commitment to serving and supporting their local communities.
“Nisa members would see existing service levels maintained with a view to improving these over time, as the Co-op plans to retain Nisa as a standalone business and brand, which has around 1,190 members and services 3,200 stores.
“The ambition is to attract new members to the combined business.”
A vote of the Nisa membership will be held in early November.
Nisa chairman Peter Hartley said: “The board was unanimous in its decision to recommend the Co-op offer.
“While the business has made significant strides in recent years, we firmly believe that the combination with the Co-op is in the best interests of our members.
“The Co-op offers the right blend of buying capability, convenience expertise, and respect for the heritage of our business, to enable our members to fully thrive in this new partnership.”
Jo Whitfield, Food CEO of The Co-op, said: “This acquisition provides the opportunity to create an even greater and more compelling member-led presence within the UK convenience sector.
“We believe we have presented a compelling offer for Nisa members, with a future proposition that would bring them our award winning own label products and wide range.
“Over the past three years, Co-op Food has been completely transformed through a convenience-led focus on delivering great value products for our members and creating real value for them and their communities.
“Co-op and Nisa have achieved so much on their own to support local communities, but together I believe we can go from strength to strength.
“If our offer is accepted by Nisa members and approved by the CMA, we can deliver a win-win for two member-led, community-focused organisations, and in the process create a distinctive footprint within the growing UK convenience retail sector.
“We are looking forward to meeting Nisa members at the roadshow events in the coming weeks, listening to their views and answering their questions.”