Thresher Group is sounding out a possible buying alliance with Musgrave Retail Partners GB.
The off-licence specialist, which operates the fascias Threshers, The Local and Wine Rack, is considering a partnership through which its stores would sell Musgrave Retail Partners' Budgens and Londis-branded food products, and Budgens and Londis stores could include Thresher Group concessions.
Talks were still at an early stage, said Andrew Severs, account manager for Threshers' partnerships division. "We have been talking to Musgrave about possible synergies with the brands - selling Musgrave Retail Partners food in Threshers and vice versa," he said. "I don't know if this is the right time because we are fixing a company strategy, but it could be an interesting partnership in the future."
A spokeswoman for Musgrave Retail Partners said: "Senior trading managers have held informal talks about a potential joint purchasing venture. The talks have not been taken to the next stage yet."
Threshers currently has concessions in selected BP forecourts. It has also made a concerted push recently into the convenience sector, successfully trialling a full convenience or distress grocery offer in 24 The Local stores. It now plans to convert 500 more stores by the end of this year.
Thresher Group has just finished a review of its business and last month trading director Lloyd Stephens said that although its The Local fascia would primarily focus on a drinks-led top-up convenience offer, a wider range could be introduced to some larger stores.
A possible tie-up with Musgrave Retail Partners would give Thresher the scope to introduce a wider offer, including fresh produce, which Budgens has a particular focus on.
The Budgens and Londis brands have been refreshed in the past year to include premium lines. Budgens is also planning to extend the number of products in its 100-strong premium range Our Kitchen this year.
The news follows hot on the heels of another unexpected tie-up. Last week Somerfield and Woolworths revealed plans for joint ventures in each other's stores.