Nisa, the wholesaler and convenience specialist, recorded a 6.3% sales increase to £254.3m in the 10 week period to 3 January, contrasting £520K in profits with the £2.4m loss incurred the previous Christmas.
“It is very pleasing to report improved trading, as many of our initiatives gain momentum,” commented CEO Nick Read. “Last year the business made a loss during the Christmas period, so to register a profit of over half a million pounds, in a challenging marketplace and during a turnaround year for Nisa, is particularly gratifying.”
Despite reservations that the convenience sector is currently “crowded”, Read, who joined Nisa as Chief Executive in February last year, insisted that reduced discounting during November enabled stores to avoid losses typically made during colder months. In 2014 Nisa made the first annual operating loss in its 39-year-old history, but attracted greater footfall during the 2015 festive period on the back of promotions on its wine, beer and spirits.
“The convenience sector has transformed from just being a corner shop selling cigarettes and newspapers to a top-up shop for customers,” Read told The Telegraph.
Nisa opened 350 stores and closed 134 loss making sites last year. The group now includes over 3,000 member-owned stores.
According to the Association of Convenience Stores, 25% of British consumers visit convenience shops daily. As a result of changing shopping behaviours, the average spend is now £6.45, 5% more per visit.
“There is a lot of congestion in the market. I think it is inevitable that there will be winners and losers and so we will see a period of consolidation” said Read.
“It is a very crowded market place – there is going to be a real shakeout in terms of the players,” added the former Tesco and Aldi exec.