'Towering figure in Scottish retail' John Brodie announces 2024 retirement as Scotmid CEO
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The Edinburgh-based co-operative retail, funerals and property empire says Brodie will continue in the role until August, while the search for his successor is already under way, and the group is hopeful of making an announcement soon.
Meanwhile, Scotmid also revealed that it saw trading profits rise to £1.5 million for the 26 weeks ended July 29, a year-on-year jump of £400,000, while turnover was up by £12m to £212m with net assets increasing to £122.8m. The organisation said the result was achieved despite costs continuing to increase, high inflation, and the cost-of-living crisis hampering household income and discretionary spend.
The society, which is based throughout Scotland, the North of England and Northern Ireland, with more than 3,500 staff, added that it undertook further retail upgrades and refurbishment works in the period, while planned spend on the Scottish deposit return scheme has been paused.
Scotmid operates 187 food stores, 63 Semichems, 16 funeral homes and an “extensive” property portfolio. Looking at these in turn, it said its food convenience division delivered a “solid” interim performance, buoyed in part by better availability. Semichem “moved forward in the period”, while Scotmid Funerals saw an increase in the number of ceremonies conducted and in pre-need plans sold, while the group’s property business “continued to grow”.
Brodie said: “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. 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.
“The cost-of-living crisis, increasing interest rates, high inflation and low consumer confidence continue to challenge our business… 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… Scotmid will remain attentive to these short-term challenges, while looking for long-term opportunities for growth underpinned by a strong balance sheet.”
Brodie also addressed his departure, coming after he joined the society in 1993 as chief financial officer, was appointed acting CEO in 2004 and took the post on permanently in 2005. He stated: “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.”
Scotmid president Jim Watson thanked the departing CEO for how he has guided the organisation “through some of the most difficult times that businesses have ever faced from the credit crunch, Brexit, [and] Covid, through to the continuing cost-of-living crisis”. He added: “When he retires next August, he will hand over a strong and successful society.”
Brodie is also chair of the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC), with that organisation’s director David Lonsdale stating: “John Brodie MBE is a towering figure in Scottish retail. He has made an enormous contribution to the industry and to the [SRC]… He will remain as [our] chair until next spring, and we hope to unveil his successor soon.”