Scotmid Co-operative is poised to become Conviviality Retail’s exclusive Scottish franchise early next year.

The partners will pilot a small number of stores, likely to be fewer than 10, before deciding on national rollout.

John Brodie, Scotmid chief executive, said the initial sites would be identified in the coming weeks.

Conviviality was highly regarded, and the two companies offered each other “a number of exciting potential opportunities” to develop and grow both businesses,” he added.

“We will be Conviviality’s exclusive Scottish franchisee, and if the trial proves successful for both parties there is the potential for further stores to be rolled out across Scotland.”

Conviviality Retail owns the UK’s largest franchised off-licence and convenience chain, with more than 500 franchised stores in England and Wales.

They operate predominantly under Bargain Booze, Bargain Booze Select Convenience and Wine Rack.

Diana Hunter, Conviviality’s chief executive, told The Grocer talks with Scotmid were focused on Bargain Booze and “there may be opportunities for Wine Rack.”

A Scotmid Co-op spokesman added the society was in “the earliest, earliest” stages but “once we get the locations we are comfortable with and once we decide on the format above the door, then the potential can develop from that.

“How many in the rollout depends on the success of the pilot. There is no grand plan as yet to say a certain number of stores long term.”

Hunter said there was plenty of opportunity, assuming the trial was successful, “because Scotmid has units in most of the key towns in Scotland.”

Hunter said the two had not talked about a shop within a shop at this stage but added it was “not unreasonable to think about that.”

Scotmid would not discuss the financial arrangement between the two, but Hunter said it was structured in the same way it structured all its franchises – with  franchisees buying everything through Conviviality in return for “great prices, great ranges…and branding and marketing” as well as various performance-related reward schemes.

Hunter said Conviviality wanted to expand across the UK and was also looking at the North East, Yorkshire and the South.

“We are considering acquisitions and alternative ways of growing,” she added.