Martin Retail shows healthy profit after sale of hospital shops

MARTIN Retail Group, which runs nearly 500 convenience stores and newsagents under the McColl's and RS McColl banners in Scotland, has posted a 30 per cent jump in profits after selling off its hospital-based shops.

Accounts newly-filed at Companies House revealed that pre-tax profits at the Glasgow-based firm – which is part of the Essex-based Martin McColl Retail Group – rose to 19.5 million in the year to 29 November, compared with 15.1m in 2008.

Profits were boosted by the sale of 16 hospital stores following a UK-wide review, which netted Martin Retail Group 9.6m in gross proceeds.

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A further 18 loss-making or marginal stores were also closed or sold over the course of the year, taking the Scottish estate down from 517 outlets to 483. Turnover fell to 300.9m from 320.3m.

On a UK-wide level, full-year accounts for parent company Martin McColl Retail Group – which runs 1,252 stores under the Martin's, McColl's RS McColl brands – showed pre-tax profits jumped from 6.1m to 21.6m, aided by the sale of 27 hospital stores throughout the whole of the UK.

Turnover fell from 775.1m to 764.9m following the sale or closure of 41 loss-making or marginal stores in total, but, on a continuing basis, revenue crept up by 0.7 per cent to 754.9m.

No-one from Martin McColl Retail Group was available to comment on the accounts yesterday but, writing in the directors' report, the company secretary, Jonathan Miller said: "The business has traded well in a difficult economic climate.

"Due to adverse conditions in the UK property market, the group chose to complete fewer store acquisitions and a greater proportion of those stores acquired have been leasehold."

The group traces its origins to Glasgow, where its first store opened in 1901.

Forbuoys bought Martin Retail Group in 1998 to create TM Retail and went on to buy Dillon stores in 2004.

Bank of Scotland backed a 165m buy-out from private- equity investors Montagu and Electra Partners in 2005, at which point the company changed its name to Martin McColl Retail Group and began trading through its three current brand names.