Increased sales and trading profit drive Central England Co-operative’s work to support local communities

Posted by Rob Smyth | 29/03/2019 | Category: Corporate

We have announced our year end results, to 26 January 2019, revealing a strong financial performance.

Trading profit and gross sales were up compared to the previous year despite the Society trading in a highly competitive environment.

Long-term investment has resulted in the continued expansion of both the food and funeral arms of the business, with the opening of 10 new Food Stores and six new Funeral Homes as well as the refurbishment of over 50 other sites across the 16 counties in which the Society trades.

Other highlights for the year include:

  • Gross sales up 2.5% to £869.9m with trading profit up 4.4% to £18.1m
  • Capital expenditure of £28.7m
  • Over 140 community groups and charities shared £173,000 as a result of grants from the Community Dividend Fund
  • Over 250,000 items were donated by customers and members to food bank collection points and over 130 Food Stores operating as part of a ground-breaking food redistribution project
  • Link-up with corporate charity partner Dementia UK reached £1 million milestone

Chief Executive Martyn Cheatle said: “The Society delivered another strong performance in 2018 despite trading conditions remaining highly competitive in 2018 in all of the markets in which the Society operates.

“We remain confident in our strategy and our co-operative point of difference to deliver growth and provide a relevant and attractive proposition to our members, customers and local communities.”

Mr Cheatle will step down as Chief Executive in April 2019 and will be succeeded by Debbie Robinson.

Elaine Dean, Society President, said: “Our strategy remains focussed on maintaining the Society’s position as a strong, member-owned co-operative business.

“We firmly believe that our values and principles of co-operation are as relevant today as they have ever been and our positive results again demonstrate the Society’s resilience to operate in a highly competitive market.”

The retailer saw continued good performance in its food business, with increased sales across its convenience stores and strong trading during key seasonal events and as a result of record summer temperatures.

Ten new food stores were opened as part of an ongoing major investment plan, alongside work to refurbish a further 35 food retail sites.

Central England Co-op’s funeral business achieved a solid performance against the previous year in the face of increased competition across both pre-need and at-need.  These results were supported with the launch of six new funeral sites and the renovation of a further 17.

Elsewhere, the Society’s 26 travel shops enjoyed continued growth in the niche holiday market, which resulted in a year of good performance.

Further progress on repositioning the Society’s investment property portfolio as part of a long-term strategy to maximise value from assets has resulted in positive results. 

The Society’s commitment to corporate responsibility resulted in a long list of successes including installing food bank collection points in over 90% of stores, rolling out a pioneering food redistribution project with FareShare at over 130 food sites with more planned and the Society continuing its championing of positive mental health with the training 100 dedicated mental health and wellbeing champions.

A continued commitment to environmental responsibilities resulted in its carbon footprint dropping by 48% against the Society’s baseline position in 2010.

As a community retailer, Central England Co-operative celebrated after raising over £1 million for its corporate charity partner Dementia UK.

As in previous years, stakeholder groups of members, colleagues and communities benefited from the success of the Society’s performance by sharing in a £3.5m dividend pay-out. 

About The Author: Rob Smyth

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