The retail food industry is being shaken up at the moment and Jempsons may well be affected by some of the changes taking place. The agitation is partly as a result of the Tesco cat roaming amongst the smaller independent retail pigeons. Tesco has now seized on one of the independent sector’s most important Cash and Carry distributors – Bookers. Other distributors and independent retailers are not happy and may still mount a last-minute legal challenge to the recent decision to allow this takeover to proceed by the industry’s regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Another takeover that looks likely to happen is the purchase of the independent retail sector’s own distributor NISA by the Co-operative Group. Both companies share the mutual, co-operative model of being owned by their customers – in NISA’s case the independent retailers. Sainsbury had intended to buy NISA but dropped out at the last minute allowing the Co-op to go ahead with its offer.
NISA was originally called the Northern Independent Retailers Association and is based in Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire. Jempsons has stocked goods distributed by NISA for many years including the NISA own brand, the “Heritage” range.
Stephen Jempson was on the board of NISA for nine years and was deputy chairman – he resigned in 2014.
The vote by the 1,190 members of NISA achieved the necessary 75% vote by a very narrow margin of less than 1 per cent. The CMA will need to give its approval for the takeover to proceed and the decision will not be known until March 2018.
Jempsons has always been fiercely independent and intends to stay that way. NISA is just one of the many suppliers whose goods they stock. But if the takeover goes ahead, managing director Stephen Jempson says “the opportunities for Jempsons are very exciting indeed. It opens up many opportunities, with regard to range, pack sizes, alternative brands etcetera. These are in addition to the company’s current expansion plans.”
The big beasts such as Tesco and Sainsbury may be clashing over the remains of the retail sector but we can be reasonably sure that Jempsons will continue to endeavour to maintain its independence.