More go local as Nisa delivers the goods

SUpermarket group Nisa-Today's boosted sales by 11 per cent in December despite the bad weather challenging deliveries during the period.

Scunthorpe-based Nisa said a combination of the weather, more people buying their groceries "for tonight" and also shopping locally to save money grew sales for the group.

Deliveries were disrupted during the heavy snow but the group said its worst performance was 95.5 per cent compared to an average of 98.5 per cent across the year.

The company also passed the 1bn turnover mark in nine months, an increase of 83m year-on-year, continuing well ahead of its business plan.

John Sharpe, managing director of central distribution trading and logistics, said: "Looking at results by other food retailers, it was a very good Christmas for Nisa and it comes on the back of a very good year."

He added: "Despite the bad weather, which made for challenging deliveries throughout December, Nisa has still achieved admirable trading figures for the month. The 1bn turnover comes just nine months into Nisa's financial year and we are looking forward to another year of record turnover."

Sales of confectionary items rose by 14.4 per cent, while general groceries grew by 11.5 per cent. Chilled food sales increased by 9.9 per cent and frozen food by 9.1 per cent.

Nisa-Today's launched a 1.35m television advertising campaign in December, currently running across major terrestrial and Sky channels until February. Mr Sharpe said figures showed 14.5m people had already watched it.

The Christmas trading figures come against a backdrop of double digit growth for the group.

Nisa-Today's achieved turnover of 1.42bn for the year ending March 2010, up 11.9 per cent on the previous year. It expects to grow sales by eight per cent this year.

The company is Britain's biggest buying group for independent retailers with 765 retail members operating over 5,000 stores and 228 wholesale members operating 270 depots. It recently started building a convenience store business with plans to put its branding on 1,200 shops in two years.

In 2009 Bibby Line tried to buy Nisa Today's, resulting in a bid worth 51m that was rejected by management as being a "very significant undervaluation" of the business.