HeraldScotland:

HELLO and welcome to the AM Business Briefing, as supermarket Lidl has said new Scottish stores will be included in a major expansion push that is set to continue at pace with the creation of 4,000 new UK jobs over the next three years.

Executives said they expect to reach their target of having 1,000 stores by 2023 and set a new ambition for 1,100 sites by 2025.

The move comes as the grocer published its accounts for the year to end of February at Companies House, showing how it benefitted during the pandemic from is position as an "essential" retailer.

Sales jumped 12% to £7.7 billion and pre-tax profits hit £9.8 million after a £25.2 million loss a year earlier, according to the accounts.

Lidl is privately owned, meaning it does not need to publish more up-to-date sales data unlike its stock market-listed rivals.

HeraldScotland:

A spokesman said the additional stores include a number of new Scottish sites.

Alongside the numbers, executives said they opened 55 stores during the first year of the pandemic and spent £17.5 million on boosting staff pay, including £8 million on hourly wage hikes and £9.5 million on bonuses during the Covid-19 crisis.

Profits may have been higher, although Lidl - along with most of its rivals - agreed to repay more than £100 million in business rates savings when Chancellor Rishi Sunak scrapped the tax to support the high street.

Several "essential" retailers made the repayments due to spikes in sales as they remained open while other stores were closed.

Lidl GB chief executive Christian Hartnagel said: "We delivered an impressive trading performance in the period which was supported by our continued investment in new and existing stores, product innovation and our people.

"All of this contributed to growth in our revenue and profits and positions us well for further growth in the years to come."

The grocer also pointed out that customers are becoming far more environmentally conscious, which could pose a risk for Lidl if it does not tackle concerns around excess packaging and net-zero supply chains.

It said the supermarket will reduce plastic in its own-brand packaging by 40% by 2025 and cut the total amount of own-label packaging by 25% in the same year.

Despite the strong sales during the financial year, bosses also revealed Brexit has had a detrimental impact on the business.

The accounts state since the end of the transition period at the end of 2020 there has been an increase in administration for importing and exporting and warned customs agents are being stretched, which is limiting their ability to process goods more efficiently.

Lidl added it had suffered from delays at the UK border due to missing Government guidelines for some shipping lines, and seen costs rise on an item-by-item and shipment-by-shipment basis due to customs duties and import costs.

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Deltic Energy has made what it described as an important step forward as the company eyes big exploration prospects in the area with an industry heavyweight.

Deltic said it has completed gathering seismic survey data covering a “highly prospective” area on which it thinks there could be big finds to be made.

Scottish firm unveils new health contracts platform

Glasgow-based procurement intelligence firm BiP Solutions, which has grown from a south-side Portakabin to a multi-million-pound turnover, is launching a new product for the healthcare procurement market.

The new Health Contracts International (HCI) platform uses artificial intelligence to help suppliers identify, track, and analyse buying activity and contract opportunities across the healthcare sector.