Society still on right track

Brodie positive over Scotmid results

Big spend: Scotmid has invested in major refits, such as this new Perth store.

THE easing of Covid restrictions has affected each arm of Scotmid’s business in different ways, but the society’s latest financial results remain largely positive.

Scotmid’s trading profit for the 52 weeks ending 29 January was £5.7m, down on the £6.4m for the 53-week period reported in the previous year.

Turnover, at £403m, represented a £6m decline on the previous reporting period, although chief executive John Brodie said this could be accounted for by the additional week of trading in last year’s figures.

Overall, Brodie was positive about the society’s performance.

“Against the backdrop of the year, we’re pleased with the trading profit. Turnover would have been just marginally ahead on a like-for-like basis.

“The composition of the result is different – businesses have performed differently as we’ve reversed out of the worst of the pandemic, but overall, happy with the result,” he said.

On the convenience retail side, Scotmid has seen shopper habits progressively trend back towards pre-pandemic levels.

Footfall has increased, while average basket spend has declined. In contrast, the society’s Semichem business – which was forced to close in the first lockdown of 2020 – saw sales steadily increase during the year as high street footfall improved.

Having navigated the worst of the pandemic, the society has come out the other side with net assets at £113m – a record level.

There has also been plenty of investment. A trial of electronic shelf-edge labels in selected Scotmid locations is being expanded to all stores, and store refits have continued, with recent fit-outs including a new Perth store, and refurbishments in Prestonpans, Branton, Menstrie and Barlanark.

The society has also invested further in Product Guru – a specialist digital platform that allows suppliers to showcase products to major retailers – and Brodie said he was “delighted” with the progress made at Start Up Drinks Lab, an Inverclyde business supported by Scotmid investment.

In a year with no shortage of challenges, including staffing, Scotmid has successfully retained a high proportion of new employees hired through the government’s Kickstart programme.

Brodie said: “In the financial year we recruited over 100 candidates and I’m delighted to say over 50% completed the programme and have remained in permanent employment with us.

“It’s a great opportunity, particularly to get younger people who have struggled to access employment opportunities – who are in the communities we serve – to get them on the ladder.”

Charitable activity has also bounced back, with the society’s Community Connect scheme returning as Covid restrictions eased.

Community Connect invites society members to vote on funding for good cause groups in their communities. Based on member votes, £84,000 was shared by Community Connect groups in Autumn 2021.

The society’s Winter Giving campaign supported more than 80 charities and organisations tackling food poverty.

Scotmid’s charity partnership with Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS) and associated charities in other UK nations has also been extended to August, after fundraising opportunities were limited by Covid restrictions.