AROUND 90 new jobs are to be created in a significant expansion of the business described as Scotland’s first social enterprise supermarket.

Glasgow-based Locavore said securing £850,000 in funding would help support the growth plans as it seeks to capitalise on increased demand for local, organic and zero waste food and goods.

Since opening in 2011, the social enterprise has opened three shops in Glasgow, developed market gardens, established a vegetable box scheme and inspired people to "engage in thinking about issues around food, where it comes from, and the fairness and sustainability of mainstream supply chains”.

HeraldScotland: Herald Newsletter daily banner

Locavore said that during a typical month it serves 15,000 customers in its shops and delivers 7000 vegetable boxes across central Scotland. With a turnover of around £4.3 million, it now employs almost 90 people.

It aims to build a more sustainable local food system "which will be better for the local economy, the environment and its surrounding communities".

The £850,000 funding package includes a mix of loan and grant funding from responsible provider Social Investment Scotland (SIS).

READ MORE: Shoppers told not to panic as retailers raise concerns

The new investment will help Locavore achieve its plans over the next two years to build a network of 10 shops, increase its capacity to deliver 22,500 vegetable boxes per month, and build the infrastructure required to make the business work in an efficient and sustainable way, with a commitment to becoming a carbon negative business.

Delivering the plan will see the social enterprise increase its headcount to 180, and increasing its turnover to around £10m.

HeraldScotland: Reuben Chesters, managing director of Locavore.Reuben Chesters, managing director of Locavore.

The funding package will be used by Locavore to scale up its activities by opening three new shops in three new locations in Scotland, taking on a new warehouse site which will act as a regional distribution hub and increase its capacity to deliver vegetable boxes across central Scotland; purchasing and setting up a new organic market garden.

Locavore said while many retail markets were adversely impacted by changing restrictions during the pandemic, the fresh food sector was one to have benefited from consistently high consumer demand.

It went from delivering almost 1,500 boxes per week at the beginning of March 2020 to almost 2,000 by the end of the same month. Currently operating at capacity, there is a waiting list in excess of 1,000.

Reuben Chesters, managing director of Locavore, said the investment will help the business 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: “Within Scotland we’ll be one of the biggest retailers, wholesalers and veg box schemes of our kind with an important position to play in development of the organic market. We’ll also be a model for how to do business properly, a leading social enterprise and a more prominent and influential voice calling for a fairer and more sustainable society.”

Alastair Davis, chief executive of SIS, said: “Having supported Locavore for a number of years, we are delighted to continue building this relationship with one of Scotland’s leading social retailers.

“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.

“Through its ambitious growth plan, Locavore will open up new markets beyond Glasgow and move to the next level in its growth journey. We’re excited to be supporting Reuben and his team on this new phase of growth.”

SIS has invested over £100m of loan finance since 2001and it said it has taken an “active role in leading the support for Scotland’s third sector and social enterprises during the pandemic”.