Nisa today (June 30) reported a 2.6% fall in sales to £1.25bn in the year to April 2, although profits were up by £8.1m to £2.8m – a turnaround on the £5.4m loss reported in 2016.
Like-for-like sales at the mutually-owned retailer and wholesaler were down 1.5%, which Nisa attributed to ‘competitive pressure and price investment’, as well as the loss of the My Local convenience chain that went into administration last year.
Nisa, which has been the subject of speculation over a possible buy-out by Sainsbury’s in recent weeks, said the business was ‘well-placed’ to grow profitability for its members.
It added 515 new stores in the period, compared to 476 in the previous year, with growth also driven by new contract wins – including supply agreements for 47 Bourne Leisure stores and the 298 stores that McColl’s Retail Group bought from the Co-op. Nisa said the new contracts were expected to deliver more than £200m to Nisa’s annual turnover in the year to 2018.
Nisa said the trading environment was ‘evolving’, with an increase in food and hot-drinks to-go and more meal solutions at home, while basket sizes, impulse sales and the number of customer visits per week had seen a fall.
The group’s own-label Heritage range saw a 4.9% increase in produce sales, while frozen red meat sales were up 79.8%, loose salads up 62.4% and chilled vegetables up 45.1% – which Nisa said reflected the ‘shift in convenience shopping towards more meal solutions’.
Nisa Retail chief executive Nick Read said: “The uplift in performance throughout 2017 continued to build on the foundations laid in 2016 when Nisa returned to profitable growth.
“Nisa is well-placed to continue the execution of its three-year strategy, to grow profitably and create a sustainable business model for the benefit of all its members.”