Scotland’s largest independent co-operative, Scotmid, has warned rising costs and supply chain disruption are among the “major challenges” it faces, after announcing strong half-year results.
Sales at the company, which runs convenience stores across the north and north-east, jumped by £8.1million to £205m in the six months to the end of July, compared to the same period in 2020.
And the business, which also owns the Semichem chain, funeral homes and an extensive property portfolio, said it had made trading profits of £3.1m during the six months, as it did in the first half of last year.
But, chief executive, John Brodie, said: “Although our interim result demonstrates the society’s ability to adapt and respond as new trading patterns emerged, there will continue to be major challenges to face, such as rising costs, the widespread disruption of supply chains and uncertainty of the impact once all the Covid trading constraints have fallen away.”
He added that the business would “continue to be flexible, focus on matters under our control, adapt our planning accordingly and continue to focus on our core purpose of serving our communities and improving people’s everyday lives.”
Mr Brodie said caution was required in comparing Scotmid’s latest interim results with those from the same spell last year, which had reflected the impact of the first Covid lockdown, including panic buying, closed Semichem stores and extra costs.
“However, encouragingly, our result is positive compared to the last pre-crisis interim result in 2019,” he added.
With a workforce of around 4,000, Scotmid runs 200 convenience stores 70 Semichems and 17 funeral homes and it owns approximately 500 investment properties.
Mr Brodie continued: “The crisis has resulted in an increase in local shopping for Scotmid’s food convenience stores.
“As the pandemic carried on into 2021, this local shopping benefit reduced progressively, with no repeat of the panic buying experienced in spring 2020.
Pressure on staffing
“But once again, thanks to the dedication of colleagues, we kept all stores trading normal hours despite severe pressure on staffing due to track and trace.
“Our food stores also experienced the widespread disruption in the UK-wide supply chain from driver shortages but responded positively with the support of local suppliers and the Semichem distribution network to supplement the national co-op network.”
He added: “With the hospitality sector now back and trading, the society has seen some trading patterns moving back towards their pre-Covid position.”
Mr Brodie said the remaining stores had “maximised the sales opportunity available,” although high street footfall had not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.
The company conducted fewer funerals this year than it did at the peak of the Covid crisis in 2020.
Mr Brodie also said he was proud of Scotmid’s members, staff and customers, who had raised £120,000 to support children’s hospices across Scotland.