Scotmid has pinned the blame for its pre-tax loss of £2m on its struggle to integrate the Sokolowski and Morning Noon & Night (MN&N) c-store chains into its business.

The company has been forced to close its food stores in Brandon Parade, Motherwell and Ellon, near Aberdeen and shed 170 jobs as it looks to halt a slide that has seen operating surplus reduced from more than £3m to £1m in the six months of the current financial year, which ends on January 28, 2006. Scotmid chief executive John Brodie confirmed the integration of the 13 former Spar stores owned by the Sokolowski family and the 50 MN&N stores, which were acquired in June and August 2004 respectively, had brought “special challenges”.

The purchases doubled the number of food stores under the company’s control in only 12 months. Brodie said: “While these stores have helped increase our turnover, there is also an initial cost to be faced in expanding so rapidly.”