Machynlleth - Ascona

Source: Nisa

Last year saw its strongest year of recruitment in forecourt stores since 2018

Nisa is driving a focus towards its forecourt estate, after experiencing its strongest year of recruitment last year since 2018.

MD Peter Batt told The Grocer it recruited 118 forecourt stores in 2023, taking it to 410 overall, including 28-site forecourt retailer MPK Garages.

He said the symbol group was looking at ways to grow its forecourt proposition, including electric vehicle charging, seating areas and revamping its food-to-go offering.

“We’re looking to understand the petrol market forecourt market and what consumers are looking for,” said Batt.

“Our insight tells that growth at fuel sites is potentially higher than in a core convenience store, so we really believe that forecourts are a great opportunity for us.”

He said shop sales at forecourt sites had gone up by 35% in the past five years, while average weekly sales had risen by 27%.

“Consumers will always need fill up or charge up their car, and we can bolster that with a strong convenience offer and food to go range – which is our second-biggest growth category,” he added.

It comes as Nisa plans to open 400 new stores in 2024, across forecourts and traditional c-stores, and accelerate share in the quick-commerce market to over 30%.

As part of its strategy, Batt said he was looking to build loyalty through avenues including rewards, rebates or reducing surcharges in a bid to retain and recruit retailers. Nisa recently simplified its rebates to a model that is solely calculated on weekly order value.

“The perfect scenario is all our customers are 100% loyal to us,” said Batt. “So we’re looking at how we can get a higher perentage of spend from retailers and reward our most loyal customers through that.”

Batt said he would also consider personalising loyalty rewards to “make them more meaningful”, or the possibility of a cash & carry operation in a bid to bring greater access to Co-op own label.

“We are in a strong position to invest,” said Batt. “We’ve done the hard work over the past 18 months of rebuilding both Nisa and the Co-op from a cost perspective, and now we’re going to be focusing on the growth trajectory towards 2030.”

It comes as Batt recently appointed Katie Secretan as director of sales and retail and Kim Clarkson as head of partner services in a bid to drive Nisa’s long-term business plans. Michelle Scott-Jones was also promoted in December to head of central operations.