East of England Co-op posts increased profits
Despite tough trading conditions the East of England Co-op has announced its second consecutive year of increased turnover and profits before tax and distributions, with sales up by £0.2 million.
The Co-op, which has over 200 trading outlets across Norfolk, Essex and Suffolk, announced a healthy turnover of £342.1m for the year 2014/2015, with £221.6m in members’ funds and £18.6m cash in the bank.
Profits before tax and distributions increased to £6.9m (2014: £6.7m) while the underlying trading profit dropped from £5.4m to £4.8m.
At a time of unprecedented change and competition in the food retail market all the East of England Co-op’s businesses, apart from the retailer’s general food operations, saw an increase in turnover.
All specialist retail businesses experienced year-on-year profit growth (with the exception of the optical business which incurred some one-off repositioning costs).
The new travel branches and the travel money service delivered an extra £2.1m in sales and funeral services generated an additional £0.4m profit.
The East of England Co-op’s investment property portfolio generated a rental income increase of 2.7 per cent.
Despite a drop in overall food sales the retailer’s locally sourcing strategy continues to thrive, with year-on-year sales growth exceeding 20 per cent. The initiative sees the East of England Co-op work with 140 local producers across East Anglia to create partnerships that bring quality, local food to East of England Co-op consumers, whilst reducing food miles.
Co-op spokesman Doug Field said: “This year we have continued to face a highly challenging marketplace, especially across our food businesses with the change in shopping habits of our consumers and increased competition from the discount stores. “Against such a backdrop it is an even more significant achievement that we have increased our overall turnover and profits before tax and distributions again this year.
“Being a sustainable retailer is never easy especially in an increasingly competitive sector, but we are immensely proud of the success we have achieved with our Sourced Locally partners and we will be looking to expand our range of fresh and locally sourced produce again this year.
“With change comes tough decisions but we are committed to ensuring our offering is relevant to the needs of the modern consumer, whilst also playing to our core strengths of being local and independent.
“Our membership is at the heart of all we do and will become more valuable as we move forward. Having a strong balance sheet with no borrowing and focusing on investing in both the business and our colleagues, will, we believe, ensure a sustainable future for the East of England Co-op and ultimately for our members.”
Photograph: Home Farm Sourced Locally producers Dan Rigione and Helen Michelsen