New chain Haldanes launched by industry veterans

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A new supermarket chain run by industry veterans is set to burst on to the retail scene during November.

Haldanes Stores, which will begin trading later this month, has acquired four Somerfield stores in Scotland from The Co-operative Group and plans to open sites across the UK.

Its stores, which will be supplied by Nisa-Today’s, will have a black fascia with green and white lettering and carry the strapline ‘Refreshingly local’ to highlight the fact that 35% of the products sold will be sourced from local producers.

The chairman of the new company is Scottish entrepreneur Arthur Harris, former MD of Osprey Forecourts, and its CEO is Graeme Hay, former operations director of Aberness. Steve Back, who was MD of Somerfield between 2004 and 2006, has been appointed as a non-executive director, while Gordon Emslie, who has previously worked for Asda and Sainsbury’s, is managing director. Chris Land, a former FD at Boots, is finance director.

The business is currently recruiting for a retail director, trading director, store managers and buyers but already has 191 staff across the four stores, which are in Prestonpans, Carluke, Broxburn and Tranent. Its HQ is in Grantham, Lincs, with a regional office for Scotland in Broxburn.

“The local knowledge at our disposal is particularly important because it means we are able to tailor the product according to local tastes,” said Harris. “We will look to negotiate margins at the same level, if not higher, than those achieved by Somerfield and The Co-operative Group, while at the same time leaving enough for the suppliers to work with in promoting their products.”

Harris added that the company was investing £60,000 per store on rebranding and IT. He has predicted turnover to grow by 3% a year, with sales per store to be between £1.4m and £7m, depending on store size, by year three.

“We appreciate the role that shops like ours can play in local communities and it is our intention to give something back in return, by supporting community events and getting back to the days when the local store was the hub of community life,” Harris added.

The retailer also plans a major marketing campaign across TV, radio and local newspapers to promote its stores.

Haldanes becomes the second new supermarket chain to launch in 2009. In August, Asco Stores said it planned to open three stores by Christmas in Warrington, Runcorn and St Helens, offering products from suppliers that the big four did not stock. The Warrington store was due to open in mid-October but has been delayed.

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