Scotmid is going through a period of consolidation following the acquisition of Morning Noon & Night last month, but it is still on the lookout for new stores.
Chief executive Colin Bird claimed that the purchase of the 50 convenience stores from Eddie Thompson for £26.7m, as well as the 13-store SCS chain in July for about £6m, makes Scotmid the fourth largest UK co-operative society.
Scotmid now owns 265 stores, 130 of which are Semi-Chem pharmacies. The recent growth of the number of c-stores was faster than Bird had planned, but he said that it was necessary to grab the opportunity to buy MN& N when it arose. The deal
included the purchase of 17 freehold properties.
He added that the company was still expanding, and if any suitable individual shops became available next week, Scotmid would consider buying.
“We have almost doubled the number of convenience stores we have within the last two or three months,” said Bird. “We have had to spend a lot of money on our core business to get to this point and stage one was to make sure that we were presenting the right image of our business so we could be proud of the name Scotmid.
“I felt we were at that stage and could go on the acquisition trail. Next year we are aiming to open 10 stores per year.”
Four of the SCS stores in the south east of Scotland have been sold to Lothian and Borders Co-operative to prevent head-to-head competition with a fellow society member.
Last week also saw the re-opening of one of Scotmid’s larger-scale stores, which has benefited from a £1m revamp.
However, another of the large stores in Edinburgh was recently scaled down because Tesco moved into the area.
Bird said that the bigger stores were still important to the business but the main focus would be on convenience stores. “We’ve got to be aware of what is going on in the market,” said Bird.
“Clearly Tesco and Sainsbury have signalled their intent to get into the small store market, so we have to be on our toes. We’ve obviously got our opening hours but we also have to make sure we have the right product at the right time.”
He added: “As far as range goes, we cannot compete at the top end of the market with the likes of Tesco, but we can cope in the convenience sector.”
Fiona McLelland