The collapse of Nisa-Today's merger with symbol group Costcutter is a blow for the whole independent sector, according to analysts and sources within Nisa-Today's.

Many of the group's retail members have reacted with frustration and disappointment that they, as shareholders, were denied the opportunity to vote on the deal.

The merger was brought to a halt by a complaint made by a handful of Nisa-Today's members to the Office of Fair Trading about alleged cartel activities. It was claimed that Costcutter retailers and Nisa-Today's retail members had been discouraged from switching between the two organisations. The OFT is currently examining the evidence.

Neil Turton, chief operating officer, said: "This whole situation has been dogged by infighting and political opposition. The irony is that it was allegations of anti-competitive behaviour that made the deal collapse when the merged company could have been more competitive. Politics have stopped change. Is this good for the sector?"

One retail member of Nisa-Today's said: "I'm very disappointed it's been shelved. There's no future for us unless we engage in further amalgamation."

Another said: "We have come so far and a lot of members would have liked to see the vote happen."

One commentator said independent retailers and wholesalers could not survive without joining forces. The merger with Costcutter would have been a major way for both to achieve that aim, he said. "The way forward would be to encourage people to join a larger organisation that offers a strong store offer and brand."

Calls are growing from within the organisation for a board restructure. Dudley Ramsden, executive chairman of Nisa-Today's, faces re-election at the group's annual shareholders meeting on 28 November.

A source close to the board has confirmed that a sub-committee of non-executives was formed after a board meeting on Monday to review Ramsden's role in the business. Some in the organisation have suggested he could be made president with a less hands-on role.