UK – Nisa, UK’s leading co-operative retailer, has announced that its members have voted in favour of the Co-op Group’s offer to buy 100% of the business for up to US$162 million.

Members voted 75.79% in favour and 24.21% against the Co-op’s offer, a deal which requires clearance from the Competition and Markets Authority, expected around the end of March 2018.

According to FoodBev, the announcement followed the recommendation last month by the Nisa board of directors to approve the deal.

Along with taking on the existing Nisa debt of US$123.4 million, the deal is expected to bring significant immediate and long-term benefits for Nisa members, including access to greater scale, the Co-op’s range and own label proposition.

According to the company, its members will still enjoy the independence to operate their stores as they wish, and will be able to remain part of a member-owned organisation within the growing UK convenience retail sector.

“We are delighted that our members have chosen in such significant numbers to vote in favour of Co-op’s offer.

We as a board are firm in our belief that a combination with the Co-op is in the best interests of Nisa’s members,” said Nisa Chairman Peter Hartley.

“The convenience store environment is changing rapidly, and is unrecognisable from that which existed when Nisa was founded more than 40 years ago.

Co-op will add buying power and product range to our offering, while respecting our culture of independence.”

“We are delighted that Nisa members have supported our offer and our ambition to create a stronger member-led presence within the UK convenience sector,” said Jo Whitfield, CEO Co-op Food.

“Together Co-op and Nisa can go from strength to strength, serving customers up and down the country and creating real value for them in their communities.

Our offer remains conditional on CMA approval and we remain in discussions with them.”

The acquisition would bring clear benefits for the Co-op, allowing it to strengthen its presence in the wholesale convenience sector, while extending the reach of the Co-op brand.

Co-op also plans to retain Nisa as a standalone business and brand, which has around 1,190 members and 3,200 stores.

The UK retail business has undergone significant changes in recent times.

Tesco, the leading UK retailer, acquired wholesaler Booker for US$4.35 billion, earlier this year, to create one of the largest combined food businesses in the UK.

Other supermarkets have consequently sought to expand in the wholesale sector as a response to the deal.