Scotmid CEO John Brodie to retire next August after 20 years at helm

The announcement comes as the society reports an increased half-year trading profit of £1.5m

John Brodie has announced that he is to retire as CEO of Scotmid, Scotland’s largest independent cooperative.

Brodie, 59 will continue as CEO until August next year when a new CEO will be in position, with the board = already at work on finding a successor.

Brodie has been with the retail society for over 30 years, nearly 20 of those as CEO. A chartered accountant who worked in an accountancy practice before joining the society in 1993 as chief financial officer, he was appointed acting CEO in 2004 and CEO in February 2005.

Scotmid president Jim Watson said: “On behalf of myself, the board of directors, staff, and members I would like to thank John for the way he has guided the society through some of the most difficult times that businesses have ever faced – from the credit crunch, Brexit, Covid through to the continuing cost of living crisis.

“When he retires next August, he will hand over a strong and successful society that delivers our core purpose of ’Serving our communities and improving people’s everyday lives.’”

Brodie said: “It’s certainly not goodbye just yet as there is still a great deal of work to be done between now and next August so it’s very much business as usual. However, making my announcement early will help ensure a smooth transition enabling the society to continue as normal.

“I can say, however, that the past 30 years have been full of a huge number of positives and a number of challenges, and I am immensely proud of how my colleagues have every time risen to those challenges.”

Interim results

The announcement comes as the Edinburgh based co-op saw trading profits rise to £1.5m for the 26 weeks to 29 July, up £0.4m on the interim results last year.

Turnover rose £12m to £212m, with net assets increasing to £122.8m. The result was achieved despite costs continuing to increase, high inflation and the cost of living crisis having an impact on household income and discretionary spend.

Earlier this year, the society restructured its head office function, “focusing on leaner, more agile and technology enabled ways of working”, alongside “innovation and tight cost control”.

Scotmid says its focus on long-term growth has led to further retail upgrades and refurbishment works in the period, while planned spend on the Scottish deposit return scheme has been paused. Spend has, however, been closely managed given rising marketplace interest rates.

The co-op adds that its food convenience division “delivered a solid performance in the period, despite continued trading headwinds and weak consumer confidence”. It reports increased footfall, which benefitted from good weather early in the summer, while better availability meant key trading periods could be maximised.

Its Semichem stores also saw footfall improve, but this is still below pre-pandemic levels “as the marketplace adjusts to the new norm”. Supply chain cost pressure and weaker consumer confidence had an impact, says the co-op, but the division moved forward in the period.

Scotmid Funerals saw an increase in the number of funerals conducted as well as an increase in pre-need funeral plans sold.

Scotmid’s Property business continued to grow thanks to positive rent reviews and strategic investment decisions over many years.

“With the current market and economic challenges, it was expected that our profit levels may not be maintained in the first half of the year,” said Brodie. “However, innovation and cost control by the team, as well as the head office restructuring earlier in the year, has allowed us to deliver a solid performance.

“We have proactively identified areas for continuous improvement in the period, allowing us to best serve our customers and communities, and maximise sales opportunities.”

Scotmid’s membership and community team continued to focus on its core purpose with a wide range of financial and other support to charities, social enterprises and local community groups.

“I am proud of Scotmid’s members, colleagues and customers who have helped to raise a fantastic total £295,000 for our charity partner, Guide Dogs,” said Brodie.

“The cost-of-living crisis, increasing interest rates, high inflation and low consumer confidence continue to challenge our business. Similarly, these challenges have impacted our customers with income squeezed and less confidence to spend in the retail marketplace. We continue to face substantial external challenges, so remain cautious with a firm focus on efficiency and innovation as we move into the second half of the year.

“Guided by our core purposes, Scotmid will remain attentive to these short term challenges, while looking for long term opportunities for growth underpinned by a strong balance sheet.”

Scotmid operates 187 food stores, 63 Semichems, 16 funeral homes and an extensive property portfolio. The Society is based throughout Scotland, the north of England and Northern Ireland, employing over 3500 people.