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Scotmid or Co-op store: What is the difference and what does it have to do with Sir Sean Connery?

Scotmid & Co-op stores
Scotmid & Co-op stores

The history of Scotmid and Co-op stores spans more than 150 years.

The shops are familiar sights throughout many cities, town and villages in the north and north-east of Scotland.

Both brands have seen their number of outlets grow with thousands of branches across the whole of the UK.

What is a Co-operative?

A co-operative (co-op)  is owned by individual members and other co-ops, not big investors, and members get a chance to have a say in how it is run.

Profits mean members receive money, rewards and offers and a co-op can support its local community.

How did they start?

The Scottish Midland Co-operative Society (trading as Scotmid), is an independent retail consumers’ co-operative based in Edinburgh with a history that covers more than 150 years.

It began in a house in Grove Street, Edinburgh, in July 1859 where 12 men met with the purpose of forming a co-operative society.

The Scotmid Coop in Woodside, Inverness

The first St Cuthbert’s Co-operative Association shop opened on 4 November 1859 in Edinburgh.

The association had 63 members and capital of just more than £30.

St Cuthbert’s would go on to become Scotmid Co-operative as we know it today after it merged with Dalziel Co-operative Society of Motherwell in 1981 to form Scotmid.

The Co-op Group was in founded in Rochdale, Lancashire and is currently headquartered in Manchester.

The Rochdale Pioneers Society was established in 1844 based on the notion of ethical trading and belief that the profits of the business should be shared amongst members according to their purchases.

By 1900 there were over 1,400 separate independent co-operative businesses in the UK, all members of a wider Co-operative Movement.

The Co-op also operates a membership scheme that supports local causes.

Members receive 2p in every pound spent on own brand products which is applied to their own personal membership account, with the Co-op donating the same amount to local causes.

Young Scot cardholders in Scotland get a 10% discount off groceries at The Co-op.

Stores across Scotland

With a workforce of around 4,000, Scotmid, Scotland’s largest independent co-operative, runs around 300 retail outlets across Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north of England.

It is headquartered in Edinburgh and businesses include Scotmid Food, Semichem, Funeral Directors, Post Offices and the property division.

It has 177 Scotmid convenience stores across Scotland including Aberdeen, Fraserburgh, Nairn, Inverness, Beauly and Drumnadrochit.

There are 67 Semichem stores throughout Scotland, the north of England and Northern Ireland and online.

Semi-Chem in Mastrick, Aberdeen

Branches in the north and north-east include Stonehaven, Oban, Inverness, Peterhead and Aberdeen.

The Co-op Group is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives, owned by millions of members.

It’s the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer with more than 2,500 local, convenience and medium-sized stores with more than 330 of those in the north, north-east and Highlands & Islands.

Picture by JASON HEDGES<br />Locators of the Co-op in Dufftown, Moray. Pictures Jason Hedges

Branches include Aberdeen, Kintore, Dufftown, Turriff, Huntly, Oldmeldrum, Tain,  Dornoch & Shetland.

In 2009 the Co-op Food business acquired Somerfield, a rival food business and in 2018 it acquired Nisa, enabling Co-op’s own brand range to be stocked in Nisa convenience stores.

Among its other wholly-owned businesses are funeral services provider, a major general insurer and Co-op Legal Services.

There are more than 100 Co-op Funeralcare homes across Scotland.

A very famous Scotmid employee

In 1944, at the age of 13, Sir Sean Connery – then Thomas Sean Connery – started work as a barrow worker in the St Cuthbert’s dairy, at a wage of 21 shillings a week.

Sir Sean Conneryco

In 1948, Sir Sean left the Association temporarily for his National Service, making a brief return as a milk horseman until 1950 when his acting career beckoned.