Nisa-Today's is to launch its biggest-ever recruitment campaign for new members as it aims to improve its supply chain efficiency and increase the volumes going through its central distribution centre.
The drive will be a cornerstore of Nisa-Today's first-ever formal business plan, which has been drawn up by chief executive Neil Turton and was approved by the board last week.
Turton said new members were essential to replace some of the larger members that had sold up and left the group in recent years, such as Bells and Jacksons, bought by Sainsbury's in 2004, and Anglian Convenience Stores, bought by East of England Co-op this year.
"We have been fortunate up until now that new members have always been knocking at the door," said Turton. "Now we need a good volume of retailers to help improve our efficiency. As the volume increases our fixed costs such as operating the warehouse basically remain the same, so it is really a sensible business issue."
Nisa planned to spend £1.5m this year on advertising and incentives to attract retailers to the group and was specifically targeting retailers with annual turnover in excess of £1m, he said.
Turton told The Grocer he also intended to improve the group's symbol offer. "Nisa has only had a symbol offer for four years so we have always been paying catch-up," he admitted.
"I want to accelerate this, developing better store and delivery standards.
"For a retailer to join from another group, our symbol has to be at least as good as the one they are leaving."
Nisa-Today's recorded a 6% increase in turnover to £1.1bn for the year to 31 March 2007, which Turton said represented an increase in real terms of about £60m.
Retailers using the group's New Era Trading Terms grew sales by an average of 18%.
The group would be investing in price from September onwards, he said. "After the issues with the failed merger last year, it is important for us to show members that we are prepared to invest in the future of the company."