Calls for a tie-up between the two groups have been made frequently in the past 10 years. But it is widely thought that professional and personal differences between Ramsden and his counterpart at Landmark, Steve Parfett, had hampered negotiations.
One source told The Grocer that Ramsden's retirement later this month would clear the way for a tie-up. "A merger would be a logical move. Such a massive group would have great buying power."
The possibility of a merger of the groups was not ruled out by Parfett, who is also MD of wholesaler AG Parfett & Sons. "Landmark and Nisa-Today's are both collaborative organisations," he said. "I would never rule out a merger, so long as those involved share Landmark's belief in transparency and democracy."
A growing number of people in the organisation claim such a move is under consideration. "That the two groups could come together will always be on the agenda," said one Today's Group member. "But my view would be to let the dust settle and see."
The matter had so far only been mentioned informally, he added.
But some kind of deal was on the cards, according to the first source. "[Nisa-Today's chief operating officer] Neil Turton is desperate to get Nisa's central distribution centre full because the spare capacity there is costing money."
Bestway MD Younis Sheikh has registered his company's interest. "Funding would not be a problem," he said, although it was not likely to use the Pakistan-based bank of Bestway Holdings.
A further faction formed within Nisa-Today's, calling itself True Nisa Members, claims to represent 10% of its turnover.