Scotland’s social enterprise supermarket Locavore gets £850k to scale ‘further and faster’
Locavore’s goal is to make grocery shopping more affordable for shoppers and beneficial to the local economy. The social enterprise supermarket is the latest business to receive support from Social Investment Scotland in the last few months.
Social Investment Scotland announced on Monday it has pledged £850,000 in blended finance to support Glasgow-based social enterprise supermarket, Locavore. The supermarket’s increased business during the pandemic, including sales of its vegetable boxes which rose 33% in March 2020 alone, has made it an attractive investment opportunity, similar to Willow Den and Edinburgh Printmakers which also received large loans from the social investor recently.
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Locavore’s goal, as the first social enterprise supermarket in Scotland, is to make grocery shopping more affordable for shoppers and beneficial to the local economy. Profits from food sales are spent investing in regional growers, paying liveable wages and creating additional initiatives to contribute to the supermarket’s surrounding communities.
Reuben Chesters, Locavore’s managing director, said the supermarket will become “one of the biggest retailers, wholesalers and veg box schemes” in Scotland. He also noted that Locavore will lead by example, showing “how to do business properly” with fairness and sustainability in mind.
“This latest investment from Social Investment Scotland will help Locavore achieve its ambitions of becoming a leader on many new fronts, putting us in a position from where we can easily scale further and faster than we have ever done before,” he said.
We can easily scale further and faster than we have ever done before
These ambitions include operating 13 shops, 10 more than it has now, throughout Scotland; raising its capacity to 22,500 veg boxes per month; and building infrastructure within the social enterprise, all in the next two years.
Benefiting from Social Investment Scotland’s Growth Challenge – a programme launched to support charities and social enterprises with well-progressed plans for 2021 – Locavore has secured the £850,000 as a mix of grant and loan money. The funding is split evenly between the grant and loan amounts.
The funding package will be used to double the supermarket's staff to 180 employees, raise its current turnover of around £4.3 million to £10 million and cement a regional distribution hub by purchasing a warehouse that will allow Locavore to expand its veg box delivery service.
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Additional projects from the investment include opening three locations beyond Glasgow and paying for a new organic market garden.
While the investment is a large one, this is not the first time Locavore has received funding from Social Investment Scotland. The social investor has been supporting Locavore since 2015 and has become one of its most successful investees.
Alastair Davis, the chief executive of Social Investment Scotland, said: “Locavore is a real success story and proof of how a social enterprise can be run successfully whilst being ethical and delivering high levels of social impact.”
Locavore is a real success story
Additional recent investments
Locavore is not the only social enterprise receiving large loans from Social Investment Scotland recently.
The social investor has committed £725,000 to Willow Den, an outdoor nursery programme that gives children spaces to connect with nature, and £1 million to Edinburgh Printmakers, a printmaking facility that provides low-cost spaces for creatives and runs a support programme for creative social entrepreneurs.
While the Covid-19 pandemic caused many success stories to stumble, Locavore and others saw a swell in demand and interest in their businesses. The demand for Locavore’s vegetable boxes was so high that the supermarket needed to create a waiting list of new customers, having met capacity so quickly.
Since it opened in 2011, Locavore has continuously grown. The shops serve around 15,000 customers a month and deliver 7,000 vegetable boxes.
Social Investment Scotland has deemed the supermarket as “a role model in Scotland’s ethical retail sector”.
Header photo: Reuben Chesters, Locavore managing director, in one of the social enterprise supermarket's shops.
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