As many as 20 of Nisa-Today’s leading wholesale members are threatening to quit the buying organisation in a row over subscription fees and strategy.
The Grocer has also learned that the group of influential wholesalers is accusing Nisa of pinching their retail customers in a bid to become a wholesaler in its own right.
One insider, a wholesaler member, said that discontent had been building among wholesalers in the past year.
He claimed Nisa-Today’s had encroached on their territories by offering to supply smaller retailers directly. They say this is a move to recoup the business lost after key customers such as Jacksons and Bells were bought.
“The beast has changed dramatically,” our source said. “It’s becoming a wholesaler in its own right and is poaching its members’ customers.”
However, Rodney Hunt, MD of Today’s Group, Nisa-Today’s wholesale arm, dismissed the claims. “We don’t approach retailers already supplied by members, although they can approach us,” he said.
Another source, within Nisa-Today’s, says that as many as 20 wholesalers have had heated discussions with the group at its headquarters over membership fees. It is understood that some are threatening to quit.
“Wholesalers are preparing to leave and establish a standalone purchasing consortium,” said the source. The wholesaler we spoke to denied a breakaway group had been formed, but added: “We will be discussing all the options. One of them is leaving.”
Hunt denied all knowledge of such a group. However, rival group Landmark has been contacting wholesalers and encouraging them to defect.
Nisa-Today’s confirmed there were proposals on the table to increase the wholesalers’ membership fees as part of wider plans to also change the trading terms of the retailers sourcing from the group.
It is understood that retailers will be offered a carrot of larger rebates in return for increased loyalty to Nisa-Today’s.
But Hunt said that plans had been frozen pending a meeting next month. “We will not put through any increases until there is fair agreement with members,” he said.
Nisa-Today’s has also had to counter confusion over the pay of its board members after some wholesalers spoke of attempts to dramatically increase salaries of figures such as executive chairman Dudley Ramsden.
Nisa-Today’s denounced these allegations as “ludicrous”.
Group MD John Schofield said: “Dudley’s pay in recent years has actually gone down.”
Rod Addy