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Scotmid’s profits rise despite Covid and closures

CLOSURES: Scotmid will close 22 of its Semichem outlets, including the store in Buckie, Fort William and Wick.
CLOSURES: Scotmid will close 22 of its Semichem outlets, including the store in Buckie, Fort William and Wick.

Profits and turnover have increased at Scotland’s largest independent co-operative, Scotmid, during a year in which the Covid-19 pandemic had a “significant, but varying impact,” on its different businesses.

The Edinburgh-based group last month announced it is closing up to 22 of its Semichem shops, including branches in Buckie, Fort William and Wick.

In addition to the health and household goods chain, Scotmid operates 177 convenience stores across Scotland as well as funeral directors, Post Offices and a property division.

It also has retail outlets in the north of England and Northern Ireland.

Yesterday the group released annual results showing its trading profits rose to £6.4million in the 53 weeks to the end of January, from £5.6m in the previous 52 weeks, while its pre-taxation surplus fell from £5.6m to £2.8m year-on-year.

Turnover at the business, which employs around 4,000 people, increased by £24m in its most recent financial year to £409m.

Semichem to close 22 stores with closures to affect north and north-east

Scotmid chief executive, John Brodie, said: “Changes in consumer behaviour during the pandemic resulted in an increase in local essential shopping in Scotmid’s food convenience stores. Customers visited less frequently, spent more each visit but the costs of operation were significantly more than usual.

“I was heartened by the overwhelming appreciation we received from our communities for Scotmid’s front-line colleagues and support teams who continued to serve our communities through the peak of the crisis.

“Like many other non-food retailers, Semichem was significantly impacted by the pandemic due to low footfall on high streets and a long period of closure in the first wave.

“Scotmid Funerals conducted more funerals but at a reduced income per funeral due to safety and social distancing restrictions.”

He added that the group’s property portfolio suffered a reduction in rental income during the crisis, due to the support provided to its tenants and “a number of defaults”.

Mr Brodie continued: “Last year, I highlighted the importance of our continuous improvement philosophy to help guide the society through the considerable challenges faced from global events, particularly Covid-19.

“In response to the pandemic, the society has harnessed innovative ideas to rise to this unprecedented challenge and continue to serve our communities effectively.

“I am very proud and thankful to the colleagues across all parts of the business that have gone above and beyond during the crisis. They have clearly demonstrated our core purpose in such difficult circumstances.

“Financially, it was a tougher second half to the year with the cost burden increasing but with the benefit of our diverse set of businesses, backed up by government support, we have successfully co-operated together across all levels in the society to deliver a strong year-end result.

“Looking forward, we still face considerable planning uncertainty surrounding the timing of the end of the crisis and the likely post-pandemic impact.

“Therefore, with our continuous improvement mind-set, we will continue to adopt a flexible approach and focus on matters under our control to deliver our core purpose of serving our communities and improving people’s everyday lives.”

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