Nisa boss: Independent retailers face most ‘challenging’ six months in 30 years

The managing director of Nisa, Peter Batt, has warned that independent retailers will face the toughest six months in 30 years.

In a video interview with property agent Christie & Co, the symbol group retailer boss warned a “choppy six months ahead” for the industry.

“It’s all cyclical; I do believe that in 2024 we will be in a much better position, but that doesn’t help people in 2023,” Batt said.

Batt also added that prices of food and drink products will eventually decrease, with exceptions of essential items including milk, egg and cheese, where prices have already been low.

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He said: “The days of four pints of milk for a pound are gone.”

According to the MD of Nisa, energy costs are also a big concern for independent retailers.

“The number one piece of feedback I get from customers – apart from obviously the core ones on price and availability which we will always be challenged on – is how can you help us with energy,” he added.

Later this month, Batt added Nisa is working with its parent company, the Co-op to “help retailers with their energy planning”

In the video, he added: “Longer-term, we are doing some work with third parties to understand how we can have the most energy-efficient stores in 2030.”

Batt continued to raise his concerns about staff retention and recruitment

“There needs to be a piece of work in the industry, something I may get involved with in the next three to five years, about making shop work attractive, passionate and something that makes a difference,” he added.

“During the pandemic, the colleagues got a real lift. People recognised that the shops stayed open and served the community.

“We need to go back to that and take some learnings from how convenience workers were seen. If we don’t, then I’m very worried about retention and recruiting the next generation.”

Last year, Batt pledged to do “as much as he can” to support retailers as the ongoing cost-of-living crisis continues to bite.

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