The Scottish government has announced a new £250,000 capital investment programme to help independent retailers introduce food-to-go stations.

The fund will provide small grants to retailers, covering 50% of the cost of re-fitting the store, new equipment and displays, in order to help retailers remain competitive.

Speaking at the recent Scottish Grocers Federation conference, rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Many of our small independent and family run convenience stores are operating in a very competitive trading environment and are having to adapt and innovate to continue to meet changing consumer behaviours. One such way of doing this is through the introduction of Food to Go stations, which entices customers into the store and generates a new income stream.

“Food to go is fast becoming a growth market for many retailers but introducing the offer comes at an additional cost which can present a challenge to small independent grocers who are already operating on tight margins. This competitive fund will provide some much needed support to those who want to diversify and expand their offer to consumers. It will also provide an great opportunity to further showcase the best of Scottish produce and encourage a shift towards healthier options”.

Pete Cheema, SGF chief executive, added: “We are delighted by this announcement from Mr Ewing. The Scottish government is making an unprecedented investment in the independent convenience store sector in Scotland. This will ensure that retailers can respond to the changing needs and expectations of customers by providing a high quality food-to–go offering with a strong focus on healthy eating options.”

The Scottish Government will continue to work with the SGF over the next few months to design the criteria for the funding scheme, and will look to open the programme for applications early next year.