The Co-op completes Nisa acquisition after court decision and CMA approval

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 8 May 2018

Nisa Retail’s £137.5 million acquisition by The Co-op has completed today.

It follows approval by the Competition and Markets Authority last month, and a legal decision to sanction the transaction on Friday. 

Former Tesco executive Ken Towle has now been appointed as Nisa’s new chief executive and he will take up the position with immediate effect. He will replace Arnu Misra who successfully performed an interim role that saw through the completion of the acquisition.  

Having taken the helm when Nick Read stepped down in September last year, he will remain in the business for a transition period to ensure a smooth handover.

Jo Whitfield, chief executive officer at Co-op Retail, said: “This is exciting news. Co-op and Nisa have all the ingredients for a successful partnership which will include the offer of award-winning Co-op own brand products. It will give Nisa partners a wholesale operation of scale, allowing them the flexibility to trade their businesses in the way they choose, whilst benefiting competitive prices and promotions on an industry leading own brand.

“Our strategy is to get our award-winning own brand product closer to communities and our new business will create an exciting product offer for Nisa partners to engage their shoppers with across the UK. 

“I’m delighted that Ken will lead the business for us and would like to thank Arnu for the work he has done alongside the Nisa executive team to make this acquisition such a success and we appreciate his support as we transition.”

Buying capability is seen as the lead factor, bringing the benefit of competitive prices and promotions.

Mr Towle, pictured right, has worked as a consultant for the past three years, having worked internationally for the UK's leading supermarket. He was UK operations director at Tesco, then China chief executive for nearly six years before heading up internet retailing, with responsibility for UK grocery home shopping.

In his final two years with the company he was managing director of Central Europe, Ireland and Turkey, overseeing £11 billion in sales,1,400 stores and 100,000 staff.

Today completes a near-year long process. Nisa granted The Co-op exclusive access to the Waldo Way business after a cooling of interest from Sainsbury's back in August. An offer was put to the board in October, and backed a month later, with the CMA launching an investigation in February.

That clearance in the final week of April paved the way for a court hearing on Friday, which in turn sealed the legalities and allowed pen to be finally put to paper today.

Details of the roll-out of the combined business are expected to emerge in the coming weeks. 

Founded by Dudley Ramsden and Peter Garvin back in 1977, Northern Independent Supermarkets' Association was launched to compete against the major multiples, with Grimsby's Mr Ramsden the second generation behind the town's superstore.

Some 41 years on, and the business has been bought to ensure smaller majors can compete with the 'big four' - which could become three with the Asda and Sainsbury's merger, as well as to protect market share from the likes of Aldi and Lidl. 

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