Nick Read steps down as Nisa chief: Is a Co-op buyout on the cards?

Nick Read (pictured), chief executive officer of Nisa Retail Limited this morning (September 30) announced his decision to step down as CEO of the mutually-owned wholesale and retail group.

The Board of Nisa said it had already started a succession planning process, the result of which will be announced in due course.

Read joined Nisa in December 2014, at what was described as ‘a very challenging time for the business’, with a remit to stabilise and set out a future strategic direction for the Company and its Members.

At the time of his appointment Nisa announced an unexpected loss and there was a degree of instability in the business. Read appointed Robin Brown as CFO in May 2015, and had to act quickly to implement a number of tough measures, allowing the business to successfully regain the confidence of a wide range of stakeholders in the business.

In July 2016 Nisa reported EBITDA of £7.3m, reversing the previous year’s loss, and marking the largest annual EBITDA swing in the company’s 40 year history. The turnaround included the payment of all Member rebates and a 12% reduction in central overheads.  In 2017 EBITDA rose to £8.6m, with profit before tax of £2.8m, and Nisa secured an enlarged banking facility, with better terms, that reflected the progress made across all elements of the business.  Following the proposed acquisition of Booker by Tesco, Nisa received a number of expressions of interest, which has ultimately led to the Board engaging in exclusive negotiations with The Co-Op.

Nisa chairman Peter Hartley said: “We are grateful to Nick for his leadership during a challenging period for Nisa and the wider convenience sector.  Nick and his team have brought much needed stability to Nisa, and he will leave the business in a significantly improved financial position.”

Read added: “My time at Nisa has been both challenging and eventful, and I am proud of our collective success in turning the business round.  The return to profitable growth was key to creating the confidence that enabled a sustainable business model for the benefit of all Nisa members. I am grateful for all the support I have received from colleagues and Members.”

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