Central England Co-op results show sales rise despite challenging market

Central England Co-op today publishes its results for the first half of 2019, with sales increasing in the face of a highly competitive retail and economic environment.

Sales grew at the Society by £7.7m to £484.6m thanks to new stores and an expanded Travel Shop network.

Central England Co-op’s efforts to invest in its future resulted in the opening of four new Food Stores and one Funeral Booking Office alongside the refurbishment of nine other sites. Further investment in new sites and refits are planned for the second half of the year and on into 2020.

The Society’s ethos as a member-owned community retail was reflected by 60 groups and good causes sharing £90,000 as part of its Community Dividend Fund and £2.3 million being distributed to members, colleagues and the wider community.

The retailer’s ethos of sitting at the heart of its communities was reflected by sixty groups sharing £90k as part of its Community Dividend Fund and £2.3 million being distributed to members, colleagues and the community

Half-year highlights include:
• Gross sales of £484.6m, a rise of 1.6 % on the previous year
• Trading profit of £11.4m
• Capital expenditure of £10.7m
• Strong cash generation of £25.3m
• Pioneering and industry-leading scheme to redistribute food to local good saw the retailer, as part of its link-up with FareShare East Midlands, donate the equivalent of over 1.6 million meals to people in need
• The rollout of a raft of new security measures in Food Stores has seen burglaries drop by 6% and robberies drop by 30%

Chief Executive Debbie Robinson (pictured) said, “In a challenging market, our gross sales increased and trading profit is in line with budget, reflecting a steady performance for the Society in the face of a highly competitive retail environment and uncertain economic backdrop.

“We remain committed to investing in our future and have opened new stores and a Funeral Booking Office alongside refurbishing several other sites.

“In difficult times, I believe our co-operative difference will set us apart and see us thrive while others may flounder. Together we will grow and prosper by embracing our values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity.”

The retailer confirmed it has plans in place to attempt to mitigate any potential impact on customers and members as a result of Brexit.

Society President Elaine Dean said, “So far this year we have seen the arrival of our new Chief Executive, Debbie Robinson, following the retirement of her predecessor, Martyn Cheatle.

“Debbie joined us in March and really hit the ground running from day one – you may already have spotted the many changes taking place as Debbie drives us forward as a community retailer.

“Despite facing difficult trading conditions, our Society is holding its own in a competitive and challenging market.

“The Board has commenced a detailed review of our strategy with the aim of confirming our ambition to be the best UK co-operative and to be a leader in the movement when it comes to good practice.”

Central England Co-operative will report on its full year performance at the end of January 2020.