Scotmid Co-op has announced its results for the 53 weeks to 30 January, with a trading surplus of £6.4m, up 14% from £5.6m the previous year.
Turnover was £409m (previous year: £385m); operating surplus was £4.6m (£7.6m); pre-tax surplus was £2.8m (£5.7m) and final surplus was £1.3m (£4.4m).
The society said the rise in turnover was helped by an increase in local essential shopping at its convenience stores during the pandemic.
“Customers visited less frequently, spent more each visit but the costs of operation were significantly more than usual,” it added.
As for its non-food businesses, the report said: “Semichem was significantly impacted by the pandemic due to low footfall on high streets and a significant period of closure in the first wave.”
Last month, the society announced plans to close a number of its Semichem sites. In the report, it said the division had had “a particularly difficult year” with stores closed for between 10 and 20 weeks in the first national lockdown, followed by further lockdowns.
“It was particularly challenging in Northern Ireland, which had tight lockdown restrictions in place before Christmas, limiting trade at the busiest time of the year. Government support only partially covered the fixed costs of the business and could not compensate for the significant loss of turnover and the additional costs of social distancing measures.”
The Semichem team had been “flexible and agile” in their response, the report added, with warehouse staff switching to supply other Scotmid businesses and Christmas lines released early to capitalise on early gift shopping.
The society added that its property portfolio suffered a reduction in rental income due to the support provided to our tenants and a number of defaults.
Scotmid Funerals conducted more funerals but at a reduced income per funeral due to safety and social distancing restrictions.
CEO John Brodie said: “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.”
The society says it continued its community and membership support activities during the pandemic, setting up a Covid Community Fund and arranging deliveries to vulnerable and self-isolating customers.
“Governance and democratic oversight has continued to operate effectively during the pandemic,” it added. “The board and regional committees meet online and have fulfilled their normal governance requirements including the annual performance evaluation and training sessions. The society’s first online AGM was delivered successfully with positive feedback received.”
The society is continuing a programme of innovative store refits, recently re-opening its Barnton store in Edinburgh, with the sales floor expanded from 2500 to 3000 sq ft, the society’s new branding and dark grey decor, and bigger Cook frozen food and Food To Go ranges. The store features energy-efficient LED lighting and refrigeration and offers self-scan alongside traditional till options.
Other features include wi-fi, Safe i, mood media sound system, security tagging, CCTV, security alarm and fire alarm installations.