Belfast Telegraph

Around 100 Nisa stores in Northern Ireland to be part of UK Sainsbury's mega-deal


Sainsbury's is understood to have tabled a £130 million bid for Nisa
Sainsbury's is understood to have tabled a £130 million bid for Nisa

By John Mulgrew

A deal to sell convenience brand Nisa — which has more than 100 shops in Northern Ireland — to Sainsbury's could be an "oven-ready solution" to the supermarket giant growing its convenience store brand here.

The board of Nisa, which is owned by its shopkeeper members in Northern Ireland and throughout the UK, is currently considering an offer from Sainsbury's, which is thought to be worth around £130m, for Nisa's entire UK business.

Nisa's shops are located across NI and are owned by their members. There are 50 Nisa Locals, 11 Nisa Extras, and another 40 businesses which are independent.

John Cummings is a shareholder, and runs his Nisa store in the Main Street area of Cullybackey. "I think it would be very good for us, and for better buying power.

"It's down to what the members do," he said.

Asked about the possibility of Sainsbury’s rolling out its own convenience ‘local’ stores for the first time to Northern Ireland, he said: “There are all sorts of different rumours. We are pushing our own Heritage band, its very good and we are doing well.”

He said if a deal “came through and the terms were right”, it could be positive for members.

Dermot Donaghy, general manager of Newell Stores in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, said:  “We are open to negotiations. It will be interesting to see how it goes. It’s more curiosity, as it would be something new for us, but we wouldn’t like to lose our influence.”

Retail NI and the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium did not wish to comment when contacted about the sale, and Nisa also did not wish to respond.

The Nisa board has a duty to consider any serious or formal offer for the business. Following the consideration, and due diligence, the board could then bring the potential sale to shareholders for a vote.

In theory, a sale process would require 50%, plus one vote, to back it.

It has 1,300 members and 3,000 stores across the UK. It’s understood there are 101 in Northern Ireland.

Shopkeepers can own up to 250 shares in Nisa. In return, they get centralised buying power and the Nisa brand.

It is understood Sainsbury’s offer, at around £2,500 a share, was favoured by Nisa’s board.

And a potential deal could help Sainsbury’s move into the growing smaller ‘local’ convenience store market, according to Andrew Webb of Webb Advisory.

He said: “Sainsbury’s Local operates almost 800 stores across England, Scotland and Wales, but has not yet branched out into Northern Ireland.

“Without knowing the details of any deal, I can see how it could appeal to both parties, and potentially benefit the most important party — us shoppers.

“From Sainsbury’s perspective, their Northern Ireland presence is almost exclusively based on the edge of town big box format and trends suggest shoppers are moving towards smaller convenience shopping, topped up by home deliveries — the days of large format stores could be numbered.

“This deal would therefore give Sainsbury’s an oven ready solution to a significant gap in their local offer.”

As one example of pricing between the stores, a Sainbury’s Local in Manchester charges 49p for a pint of semi-skimmed milk, while Nisa in Belfast charges 47p.

“Overall, while I’m always concerned about losing our unique retail identity, there is a lot of logic in this proposed deal,” Mr Webb said.

Sainsbury’s said it does not comment on market speculation.

Belfast Telegraph