The trouble with The Co-operative Movement,” CEO Peter Marks admitted at the IGD’s 2011 convention, “is that it has neither co-operated nor moved.” This week’s disappointing results show just how important the movement’s journey is.

A similar journey now awaits Costcutter. At this week’s Convenience Retail Awards, the Bibby-owned fascia’s members walked away with many awards including the ultimate Convenience Store of the Year award, and once again the Lifetime Achievement Award went to a Costcutter member. Sunstar’s Najib Khan. Yet Costcutter’s recent past has been overshadowed by controversy: first, involving its spectacular bustup with distributor Nisa and more recently, with the deterioration in Sir Michael Bibby’s relationship with Costcutter chairman Colin Graves following Bibby’s acquisition of his business in 2007. Now, in dropping Nisa and announcing an eight-year distribution deal with P&H, the near-biblical soap opera is drawing to a close, and Costcutter can move on.

” Costcutter’s problem has been that it doesn’t and hasn’t historically cut costs”

Adam Leyland, Editor

The question is: how many of its members will move with it? According to some industry sources, as many as 300 are rumoured to be planning to desert Costcutter, seeking the security and continuity of present distribution incumbent Nisa.

Costcutter CEO Darcy Willson-Rymer clearly believes he can take his members on the same journey, however, and in an exclusive interview with The Grocer, confidently predicts that come the switchover next June, Costcutter will have as many members as it does today, “if not more”.

His confidence is borne of devising a plan driven by their feedback. And essentially it is instructed by the fact that, a bit like Peter Marks and his Co-operative Movement, Costcutter doesn’t and hasn’t historically cut costs. Willson-Rymer’s hunch is that, by twinning Costcutter’s famously flexible and undemanding contracts with greater scale, on both the distribution and buying sides, Costcutter can finally fix that. That doesn’t mean Costcutter members will suddenly be able to match Tesco but if prices can be closer (and range is better), the much-predicted Exodus may turn out to be a Revelation.