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March 9, 2016

Share the food

The community shares naysayers were quick to argue this would only work where investors could expect to get a decent return on their investment – pointing to the early successes in renewable energy for evidence. But it seems the appeal of community shares is much wider than that – perhaps the motives of investors are more complex than the simple want of a financial return on investment. The latest share issue to launch – and to attract significant sums – is focused on bringing locally produced food to the high street.


The campaign to raise funds for the Penicuik Storehouse, launched at the end of last year, has already brought in investment totalling more than £42,000, which represents more than half the Penicuik Community Alliance’s green-light target of £82,100. The funding is required to open a substantial community food and market on Penicuik High Street, which will provide space for a community bakery, café, kitchen, food store and indoor social supermarket.

Over 1670 £25 shares have been taken up so far, by 180 mainly local shareholders either in person or through the online Microgenius platform. The offer promises both a financial and social return on that investment. The share offer is open until March 31st, and it’s hoped the Storehouse will start trading not long afterwards when fitting out is complete. The project has already received strong support from the Scottish Government, Midlothian Council, Midlothian Voluntary Alliance, Social Investment Scotland and Community Shares Scotland.

The Penicuik Community Alliance has secured a commitment from HMRC that all investments in this project will be eligible for the Enterprise Investment Scheme, which means that individuals can deduct 30% of their investment from this year’s tax liability

There’s an exhibition at Penicuik Town Hall during Open House on Saturday 27 February (10 till 2) and Sunday cinema Sunday 28 February (7 till 9). Upcoming public meetings about the project have been set for Penicuik Town Hall on Friday 4 March and Friday 18 March, both at 7pm.

Roger Kelly, convener of the Penicuik Community Alliance, said:

“We’ve been blown away by the strong support we’ve received for the Storehouse idea, both from Penicuik and from further afield. There’s a growing appetite for this kind of project across Scotland – people want to see businesses on their high streets that support each other, and that support the best local food and products. We think this can be a model for other towns across Scotland, and we were delighted to organise a Ministerial visit to the project for Margaret Burgess MSP earlier this month.

“We’ve brought in a lot of investment already, and we’re really grateful for the huge vote of confidence in the project which that represents. But there’s still a long way to go, and we need investors to get on board now to make the project a reality. We think it’s a persuasive case, combining a good return on their investment, a substantial tax break, and the knowledge that they’ll be helping to build the kind of community business that can make

such a difference to our local economy. We’re open to public view outside the Storehouse (formerly Nickel & Dime) in Penicuik High Street in the weeks ahead and anyone who wants to find out more can come along to the Town Hall sessions and meet the team.”

Kelly McIntyre, Programme Manager for Community Shares Scotland, said:

“It’s great to see the progress that the Penicuik Community Alliance is making, both bringing in the investment and doing the hard work that will be required to open the Storehouse later this year. As they pass the halfway mark I’d really urge local people and others with an interest in the future of Penicuik to look them up online and see how much they can afford to invest. 

“People often feel they have to choose between finding investments with a good return and finding socially useful causes to back. With the Penicuik Storehouse, as with community shares in general, investors get both in one package. It’s an increasingly popular model for projects like this across Scotland, and we have helped similar enterprises bring in more than £3m in investment over the last eighteen months alone.”