Amanda Jones, Nisa

Amanda Jones, Nisa

Amanda Jones, chief operating officer of Nisa talks to NR about ‘outstanding growth’ and relaunch of the retail group’s own brand products

It’s been another good year for Nisa as it continues to work through its transition into a retail and customer focused business.

The Nisa business has performed well in 2013 (April 2013-December 2013), currently trading 8.9 per cent up year on year, with volume up 11.9 per cent.

Further to this, Nisa recorded an “outstanding” 15.3 per cent growth in value terms and 16.4 per cent growth in volume through Central Distribution Services year on year, for the four trading weeks of December, with the week prior to Christmas delivering the second highest weekly volume of 2013.

The Northern Ireland market is performing in line with the GB operation, currently 7.3 per cent up year on year.

Amanda Jones, Nisa CEO told NR that the robust trading performance was particularly strong in relation to the relatively weak performance expected for high street and grocery retailers in general.

She was also pleased to report that during the first six months of the current financial year Nisa members had already benefitted from over £16.5 million in rebate payments from the company, representing a 12.3 per cent increase year on year.

“This year has been significant for Nisa as it continues its transition into a retail and consumer focussed organisation,” said Amanda.

Nisa Fiveways, Newry, retail
Nisa Fiveways, Newry

“Nisa has been investing in the service it provides members, as well as enhancing the team at the Member Support Centre, to ensure it provides the best possible service in the sector. This investment has seen the development of the marketing function within the business as well as the creation of two new business units, one for symbol operators and one for independent and specialists, helping to ensure Nisa fully caters for the needs of all independent retailers.”

Over in GB, there has been the transition of the McColl’s Retail Group stores to Nisa membership with 349 stores joining Nisa in just six months.

Since joining Nisa, McColl’s Retail Group has also made a number of acquisitions which they brought straight into Nisa membership.

The Nisa fuel offering has met expectations with four stores now trading under the Nisa offer and another two to follow in 2014.

“As this is a new venture for Nisa we are ensuring each site is suitable for this package and will effectively portray the Nisa brand,” explained.

“Further to this, due to the nature of fuel retailing, stores are often tied into long contracts, so whilst interest has been high it will take a while for their transition to the Nisa package to take place. The own brand fuel offer is available to Northern Irish stores and as more retailers see the success of the current sites we are sure we will see this develop in this market.”

Nisa has raised its profile in Northern Ireland in recent years thanks to some new award-winning store developments such as the Fiveways, Newry, Hughes Nisa, Camlough and the Milestone in Rathfriland – which is currently under development.

The company is planning more this year as more independent retailers look to work with symbols and retail groups.

Amanda said: “We currently have approximately 40 store developments in the pipeline for 2014 as more independent retailers look for the security of a retail group to help them to compete against the competition that is encroaching on the sector.”

As well as working with retail groups, more and more independent retailers are embracing technology and realising the potential streamlining their businesses.

Over the past year Nisa has launched a number of new apps, exclusively for its independent retailers, available for smartphones and tablets which are now being utilised by more than 800 members.

“The member app allows retailers to order new web deals and presells directly from their mobile or tablet device helping to speed up the process, which is vital for independent retailers where time is precious,” explained Amanda.

Nisa, forecourt, fuel, retail
A typical Nisa forecourt

“It also provides Nisa members with regular updates regarding product news and important company updates, allowing them to act on this quickly if necessary.”

Retailers can also take advantage of the Nisa epositive app which allows members to monitor their store real time from their iPhone or Android device. This includes real-time visibility of turnover, basket volumes, orders placed and frequency of other key elements such as voids and price reductions carried out in store.

Looking ahead to the coming year, Nisa is relaunching its Heritage own label range.

It has an established and extensive range of 1,300 own label products, including chilled and fresh lines but it wants the brand to take that next step.

Amanda says that Nisa’s vision is to develop the Heritage brand even further in the next year, building on its current success and creating a unique own brand packaging as well as the reformulation of its ranges to even further improve quality.

Nisa has also appointed a specialist packaging agency to assist with its quest of developing Heritage into a £500 million brand.

“Nisa has assessed the market and observed the trends and influences affecting shopper behaviour such as people being increasingly time poor, the trend towards scratch cooking, eating in being the new eating out and the fact we have an aging population who tend to shop locally.”

Amanda added: “Nisa already has a strong, well established brand but it is important that it pushes this even further, continuing to provide consumers with good quality and value for money whilst delivering a relevant and vibrant brand full of personality.”

The stores themselves are also set to change, with focus on providing customers with retail space that provides for all their needs.

“Nisa is also creating new store formats and exploiting insights into shopper missions, under the guidance of format and development director, Raj Krishan,” said Amanda.

“This will form the basis for an evolution of the Store of the Future concept through store layouts specifically designed to maximise consumer spend by ensuring the store delivers on the expectations and demands of its customer base.”