Colin Graves, the chairman of UK convenience retailer Costcutter, has launched a public attack on Nisa-Today’s after resigning from the board of his company’s supplier and fellow c-store chain.

After serving on the board of Nisa-Today’s board for 20 years, Graves said he was leaving the group because he had been excluded from some board discussions.

According to reports in the York Press, Graves said: “For the last nine months they have excluded us from board meetings due to a ‘conflict of interest’. If there was a conflict of interest, it would have been there over the 20 years we have worked together and developed business together. I can’t get my head around it.”

However, a spokesperson for Nisa-Today’s told just-food that Graves was only excluded from “parts” of board meetings after the Bibby Group, Costcutter’s majority owner, bid for Nisa-Today’s distribution contract.

“When the Bibby bids were received late last year it became clear that these could not be discussed in a board meeting with Colin due to a conflict of interest,” the spokesperson added.

Additionally, according to the spokesperson, Bibby said it would split Costcutter away if the bids were not successful, “so this situational conflict of interest carried on in other parts of the board’s agenda”.

“Examples would be the distribution tender, which Bibby was a bidder in and the Nisa recruitment strategy,” he said. However, Graves still received agendas and attended every other part of the meetings.

Bibby Group’s bid for the distribution contract was unsuccessful and its current contract will expire in April 2011.

Nevertheless, the Nisa-Today’s spokesperson added that it was very much “business as usual” with Costcutter and that it is “not in the interests of either company or its members/retailers to get into a public heated discussion”.

Costcutter did not respond to requests for comment.