Nisa Retail has drafted in bankers to advise over a potential sale of the business, according to reports.

The member-owned convenience store group is working with Lazard to examine the possibility of bringing in outside investment.

According to Sky News, the project is in its early stages and could conclude with no radical changes to the ownership structure of the group, which trades across approximately 3,500 stores.

Nisa is currently owned by its 1,400 members, who each own up to 250 shares in the business.

Sources close to the situation said any sale of the business would therefore be “akin to demutualisation.”

Nisa Retail, which declined to comment on the nature of its work with Lazard, is in the process of finalising a £120m refinancing deal.

The convenience store sector is currently being shaken up by Tesco’s proposed £3.7bn acquisition of Britain’s biggest food wholesaler Booker, which is being investigated by the competition watchdog.

Nisa’s fortunes have been rejuvenated under boss Nick Read, himself a former Tesco executive, amid plans to grow sales to £2bn by 2019.

Last year, it registered a £7.3m profit on sales of £1.3bn.

But despite its improving performance, Nisa and rivals such as Spar and Costcutter continue to face into a fiercely competitive market, with the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury’s and the Co-op growing their respective convenience businesses at a pace.