Costcutter Supermarkets Holdings Limited has merged with wholesaler Nisa-Today's, in a deal which builds slight ground on the big four UK food retailers.

Costcutter and Nisa said in a joint statement that the merger would incorporate their resources in order to benefit independent retailers and wholesalers.

The deal will be presented to Nisa shareholders in the next six weeks, with final approval depending on a vote taking place in early July. 

Icelandic bank Kaupthing, which also has a 9% unlisted share holding in UK supermarket Somerfield, is reported to be brokering the deal.

Today (12 May) a filing on the Iceland stock exchange by Bakkavör Group, the UK's largest chilled foods maker, said Kaupthing has sold 357.4 shares in Bakkavör, to 24 investors for ISK17.2bn (US$243m).

Kaupthing's communications department was unavailable for comment when contacted by just-food.

Costcutter, a franchise of 1,400 stores, and Nisa, an independent buyer and distributor, have unanimously agreed on the combination "subject to due diligence".

Nisa has 960 retail members constituting 5,000 stores, and 330 wholesalers running 350 depots. In comparison, Tesco operates a 2,365 convenience stores, hypermarkets, and supermarkets globally.

On Monday (8 May), the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), decided to refer the UK grocery market, including Tesco, Asda, JS Sainsbury and Morrisons, to the Competition Commission for a market investigation.

Neil Turton, Nisa's founder and executive chairman, said at the time: "Nisa-Today's is delighted with the OFT's decision to refer the market to the Competition Commission for investigation.  Although there is still much to do before we achieve our objectives, this decision opens the door to the fairer grocery market we have been campaigning for and is positive news for our members."