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New Scottish supermarket chain to create 200 jobs

© The Herald
Originally published: 02.11.2009
by Alison Campsie

A new nationwide supermarket chain is set to open its first stores in Scotland with the creation of almost 200 full-time jobs.

Haldanes, set up and run by a Scots team, anticipates that it will have 50 branches across the UK, with a turnover of £100m, in four years time. The first stores will open in Carluke in Lanarkshire, Broxburn, Prestonpans and Tranent near Edinburgh.

Director Arthur Harris said the firm’s emphasis was on Scottish local produce and maintaining good links with the communities that the shops serve.

The firm will take over a share of the Co-op stores to be shed following an Office of Fair Trading ruling after the Co-op bought Somerfield earlier this year. The Co-op will lose 133 stores to avoid dominating local markets.

Haldanes will be the first mid-sized supermarket chain to open in the UK for 27 years.

Mr Harris said: "We are protecting the jobs of all existing store staff and when the expansion programme is complete and the new management structure is in place we expect to employ more than 700 people."

A key policy of Haldanes is to source more than a third of its food and drink from local producers at each store.

"In particular, stores north of the border will include an enhanced range of Scottish foods, and much of the Scottish-sourced produce will be sold in our English outlets too.

"The local knowledge at our disposal is particularly important because it means that we are able to tailor the product according to local tastes. Although some of the established supermarket chains have tried to source locally, we believe that none has managed it effectively. What makes Haldanes different is our local knowledge."

Mr Harris added: ‘We appreciate the role that shops like ours can play in local communities and it’s our intention to give something back in return. For example, we would be keen to support local events and, quite simply, to be an integral part of the community. In some ways, we wish to get back to the days when the local store was at the hub of community life.

"This is an exciting project, not just for those of us involved but for business generally at a time when all we’ve been hearing for over the last year are dire tales of closures, job losses, stagnant growth and doom and disaster."

Mr Harris named the firm after his Perthshire forefathers. He was until recently a major shareholder in a business which coupled petrol stations and mini-supermarkets.

His business partner is Graeme Hay, the firm’s chief executive, a leading grocery retail experts.

Mr Hay, from Inverurie, started his career with William Low before forming his own retail business in 1994 which he then sold four years later to Aberness Ltd, one of Scotland’s leading grocery wholesalers and retailers. In 2004, when Aberness was sold to Somerfield, Mr Hay was retained as a consultant while also building up his own property portfolio.

The pair are joined by fellow Scot Gordon Emslie, as managing director. He has worked with William Low, Asda and Sainsbury’s.

One retail expert described Haldanes as an exciting new development during the recession. Tom Fender, director of him!, a London-based retail and shopping consultancy, said that the downturn was a prime time for innovation.

Mr Fender said: "As a nation, we tend to focus on the negative aspects of the recession, but we forget that recessions can actually be a good time for new business start-ups to bring fresh ideas, concepts and products to consumers."

The company will have a main depot in Broxburn, West Lothian, and a second in Grantham in Lincolnshire.


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