Semichem pharmacy chain

Scotmid currently operates 11 Semichems in England

Scotmid is to take its food business south of the border for the first time after revealing plans to merge with Penrith Co-operative Society.

The society currently operates 11 Semichem pharmacy stores in England, but after the merger, would also have nine food stores in Cumbria and County Durham.

It currently has over 200 food stores across Scotland, as well as pharmacies, perfume shops under The Fragrance Shop fascia, funeral branches and post offices in both Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Penrith Co-op has 179 staff and reported sales of £13m in the year to 7 January 2013. Last year, it was 94th in The Grocer’s Top 100 ranking of Britain’s Biggest Grocers.

The societies said they had agreed to merge, subject to member approval. “The next stage will see the sharing of information with a view to the merger completing in the autumn of this year,” they added.

The deal would mark the first merger in The Co-op movement since February 2009 when one-store Moulton Co-op merged with Midlands Co-op. The recent inactivity is in stark contrast to 2005-2009 when 10 co-ops joined forces.