Retail co-ops select SymphonyAI technology

  • October 24, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

UK retail chains Southern Co-op and Scottish Midland Co-operative (Scotmid) have selected AI-based intelligent retail assortment, shelf and floor planning technology from California-based SymphonyAI.

SymphonyAI specialises in predictive and generative enterprise AI SaaS. Southern Co-op and Scotmid have selected SymphonyAI Retail CPG assortment and space planning for implementation across the food business in the companies’ nearly 500 managed and franchise convenience stores in various regions of the UK.

The two businesses, which are both members of Federal Retail Trade & Services (FRTS), a central co-op food buying group, have a track record of innovation and investment in technology to keep their stores and customer offerings as relevant as when they began trading more than 150 years ago. They plan to move to the next level through SymphonyAI to tailor the assortments, shelves and floor spaces at both the store and category levels for data-driven alignment with the evolving needs of each store’s local customers.

Following a vendor selection process, Southern Co-op and Scotmid selected SymphonyAI’s assortment and space planning for its AI-driven insights and ease of use. SymphonyAI’s assortment optimisation generates rapid, customer-centric assortments for each store format, using basket, loyalty, store and shelf space, supply chain and market data to ensure the right products are available to customers at the right time and place.

The businesses expect SymphonyAI to make it quicker and easier for their food teams to identify and turn insights into macro- and micro-space improvements at a store level. Additionally, SymphonyAI stood out for its deep grocery expertise, cloud-native SaaS architecture, and true partnership mindset. These qualities are already helping support rapid implementations and up-skilling of both co-ops’ food teams to use the AI-based technology quickly.

“The advanced end-to-end range and space platform will be a game changer for us, making it possible to increase our member and customer satisfaction by better aligning and tailoring our product assortments at the SKU level by store with ease by utilising the AI-driven clustering and product assortment functionality,” said Andrew Farndell, head of trading and format at Southern Co-op. “This will also improve the efficiency in the central functions with the ability to seamlessly move between modules and workflows when working on ranging or space projects while supporting increased on-shelf availability with specific shelf profile and shelf capacity ranging on a store-by-store, fixture-by-fixture basis.”

Stewart Dobbie, director at Scotmid, added: “The SymphonyAI team are retail-focused AI expert innovators. The SymphonyAI category planning platform is best-of-breed, and the SymphonyAI team is already bringing new innovations to us on top, an example being their computer vision-based store intelligence.”

And Dusan Rnic, senior vice president of SymphonyAI, said: “We are excited to collaborate closely and productively with Southern and Scotmid co-operatives to deliver measurable value as they deploy our leading AI technology to serve customers better, improve efficiencies, and present a consistent and localised shopper experience. Southern and Scotmid both anticipate the enormous value of intelligent space-aware assortment and, through our partnership, they can efficiently realise that value. We look forward to strong mutual success for many years to come.”

An independent co-operative based in the south of England, Southern Co-op ( is owned by its members and has nearly 400 trading outlets across a number of markets. Through its Cobra Coffee subsidiary, it is one of the largest franchisees of Starbucks in the UK. operating 70 coffee stores.

Scotmid ( is Scotland’s largest independent co-operative and has been at the heart of Scottish communities since 1859. Its businesses include Scotmid Co-operative, Lakes & Dales Co-operative, Semichem, Scotmid Funerals, Post Offices and Scotmid Property. The society employs almost 3500 people in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north of England. Scotmid is a co-operative society owned by its members.

Since its founding in 2017, SymphonyAI ( has grown to 2000 data scientists and other professionals. It is an SAI Group company, backed by a $1bn commitment from Romesh Wadhwani, an entrepreneur and philanthropist.