Nisa has appointed Arnu Misra as its interim chief executive, after Nick Read stepped down on September 29.
The news comes as the convenience grocery retailer and wholesaler recorded what it called a “positive” first-half period for the 26 weeks to October 1.
In addition, Co-op is expected to reveal a formal takeover offer for Nisa imminently – although whatever proposal is made, it would still need the majority approval from Nisa’s 1400 members.
In its half-year report, Nisa’s total sales went up 12.4 per cent year-on-year to £728 million, while retail like-for-likes climbed 1.9 per cent.
It said its positive results were boosted by 409 new stores, compared to the 188 it opened in the same period last year with a new net at 284 compared to last year’s -110.
New membership recruitment also boosted its sales, and with existing members expanding their estate.
Meanwhile, Misra was internally appointed to the interim chief executive position as part of a succession plan announced when Read resigned.
Misra, who has been an independent non-executive director at Nisa since November last year, is a retail veteran, having held significant senior executive roles at Matalan, Asda, and Loblaw‘s in Canada.
He also spent six years as chief executive of private equity-backed Cannons Health, doubling its membership base before selling to Nuffield Health.
Read leaves after becoming chief executive almost three years ago in December 2014.
Since then, with the help of chief financial officer Robin Brown, he has been credited with stabilising and bringing the convenience grocery chain back to profit.
Commenting on the half year results and interim chief executive announcement, Nisa chairman Peter Hartley said: “We have continued to serve our existing members well, and as a result new member recruitment has shown significant gains.
“We are delighted to have Arnu as interim CEO; he has a wealth of retail experience and is ideally placed to lead Nisa as we seek to optimise the service, benefits and opportunities we can bring our members.”
Nisa first attracted interest from Sainsbury’s months after Tesco‘s proposed £3.7 billion acquisition of convenience retailer and grocery wholesaler Booker.
However, since the Competitions and Market Authority began carrying out a probe into the Tesco-Booker deal, Sainsbury’s placed its talks with Nisa on hold – prompting Co-op to swoop in and commence exclusive talks.