Choosing the right partner for growth

Nisa Local store

There’s never been a more urgent need for all of Scotland’s local retailers to ensure that they have the right partners behind them to deliver the profits and growth they need to ensure a bright future in a tough market.


Let’s be honest: running a profitable local retailing outlet has never been more difficult. The minimum wage adds thousands to the overhead every year, the cost of utilities is rising, sales in traditionally key categories are being routinely squeezed with new legislation, margins are falling across the board – we could go on.

Finding new ways of reducing costs and driving up footfall, sales and profits has never been more pressing and has never been more challenging. Evolving your business to embrace vital trends like coffee, food-to-go, fresh and chilled and such like is one way that retailers can drive bigger margin sales, but possibly the most effective quick fix that any store can implement is by joining a symbol group to gain access to the huge array of benefits that they can bring. Or, if you are already part of a symbol group, perhaps it’s time to consider if a different one might be more appropriate for your model?

The lure of becoming part of something bigger is an enticing one and is one of the few decisions that an unaffiliated retailer can make that is all but certain to improve the business. Access to much greater buying power and all the benefits that come with being part of a larger organisation can be the difference between profit and loss in today’s ultra-competitive market.

Joining a symbol group or fascia doesn’t mean that retailers need to lose their independence – quite the opposite. While the different groups all have different criteria that members must meet in terms of buying commitments and compliance, the one thing they all share is commitment to allowing local retailers to retain their independent status, something that’s non-negotiable for most.

But joining a symbol group offers all the benefits of being part of a nationwide collective of like-minded retailers with access to big buying power and the many invaluable support mechanisms that membership brings.

The number of stores that now belong to one symbol group or another is fast approaching the 50% mark today, and that’s for a reason. One other point worth noting is that very, very few retailers decide to return to being unaffiliated after joining a group. They may subsequently switch symbols, but they don’t tend to go back to being unaffiliated once they’ve had a taste of what’s on offer as part of a bigger group.

So whether you are considering joining one of these groups for the first time, or are considering moving from one to another, this guide will provide you with the key data you need to make a fully informed decision as to which fascia is right for you.

The great news is that the range of choices available has never been greater. Each partner has its own strengths, but they all offer buying power, a household name above the door and a comprehensive support network covering everything a retailer needs to remain competitive in today’s retail environment.

Choosing a symbol group can seem an intimidating task. It is a big commitment, especially if you are already tied into a contract or faced with joining fees – whether this is in the form of an admin charge, buying shares or paying for signage or delivery. But there is no doubt it can pay huge dividends.

How to decide which symbol group is right for you will ultimately depend on your shoppers and what they want you to offer them. The pros for retailers considering joining or switching symbol groups are numerous and the cons are few.

Sometimes there will be a fee, but it may be worth the cost as often it gives additional industry-specific information that will support any application. This information, when backed by the weight of a symbol brand, can add an influential supporting voice to any finance application.

Retailers should ask themselves whether remaining unaffiliated is detrimental to their potential as a business. Whatever level you decide to go in at, do your research before determining which group is right for you – then when you do commit, make sure you commit fully to give your refreshed business the best possible chance of building long-term sustainable growth.


There’s never been a better time to join Nisa

Nisa licensed section

With multi award-winning stores including Ardeer Services, Greens of Markinch, Pinkie Farm and Giacopazzi’s Milnathort, to name a few, Nisa is the proven partner of choice for many market-leading, independently minded retailers in Scotland.

With a current offer that sees retailers able to join Nisa with no membership fee and then get rewarded with £2,000 if open and trading before the end of the year, there has never been a better time to join the group.

Nisa was acquired by the Co-op last May. The new structure brings enhanced buying capability, allowing Nisa partners to trade their businesses in the way they choose, backed by competitive prices and promotions.

Retailers have the option to operate under a symbol fascia; Nisa Local or Nisa Extra, or dual branded, whereby a Nisa partner can maintain their own local identity whilst also benefiting from the strength of the Nisa brand. Alternatively, a retailer can choose to trade under their own independent fascia.

Through its latest Evolution store format, Nisa offers flexibility to retailers with a more modular development format which accommodates the individual demographic and shopping missions of each store. The Evolution format has seen great success, with retailers on average achieving a 12 per cent uplift in sales since conversion.

Nisa provides a complete retail support package which comprises a strong retail focused team, an enhanced category management system, a bespoke staff training facility and a comprehensive marketing package.

Nisa’s flexible model provides its retailers with an unbeatable breadth of range of more than 13,000 SKUs. This includes access to in excess of 2,000 Co-op own brand products. Nisa’s award winning own label range, Heritage, is also available, providing even more choice. This is all delivered by Nisa’s industry leading supply chain which retailers can trust with an impressive 99.9% of deliveries made on the day and 95% successfully made on time.

A strong focus on availability for the past 12 months has given the best service to Nisa partners for more than five years, generating an additional £40million in annualised sales.

With its own insight team Nisa is able to help retailers truly understand their customers and their marketplace, enabling them to modify their offer to match the ‘local’ demographic. Retailers can then use this in conjunction with Nisa’s category management service to create bespoke planograms, layouts and propositions within their individual sites.

A comprehensive support structure is provided to ensure retailers continue to push their business forward.

Finally, Nisa recognises the importance of community involvement, and as such its retailers can support good causes in their local area through Nisa’s Making a Difference Locally charity, which has donated more than £8.8 million to charities and good causes throughout the UK since 2008.

To Join Nisa complete the form online or contact our development team on 0800 542 7490.