Beast from the East causes rise in profits for East of England Co-op
PUBLISHED: 15:45 24 April 2019 | UPDATED: 15:45 24 April 2019
The East of England Co-op has reported a 33% rise in underlying trading profits to £5.6m during the year it celebrated its 150th anniversary.
The extreme weather conditions of the Beast from the East and the long hot summer also helped the group's food stores – with a 2.2% increase in sales reported as customers stocked up on supplies.
Society president Sally Chicken branded the 2018/19 trading year as a milestone for the group as it invested in new technologies in an attempt to work smarter.
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“Thanks to the continued hard work of our colleagues and investment in technology, we have delivered a growth in trading profit despite a turbulent economy,” she said.
“We have had a strong year, generating underlying trading profits in excess of £5m – a tremendous result.”
The group's annual report also revealed its property investment business has experienced continued success – with rental income approaching £8m each year from more than 450 properties.
Ms Chicken added: “Our investment in technology is delivering efficiencies, helping our food business increase its profits.
“With membership at the heart of our business we continue to share our profits with members, last year issuing £2.1m in dividends.”
Elsewhere the expansion of the co-op's funeral business in 2017/18 caused a growth in the market share, despite a fall in the UK death rate.
The society admitted market conditions remain challenging with the rising costs of the National Living Wage and rising inflation contributing to the difficulties.
It also reported its 'Sourced Locally' sales continued to rise – accounting for £18m of sales.
Joint chief executive Doug Field added: “We are seeing the benefits of doing business the co-operative way and investing in our business.
“Our ability to leverage the technology we have invested in within our food business has made a big difference.
“Our long-term strategy remains the same – to continue to maintain a strong and sustainable business, to generate profits and support our communities.
“The success of recent years is in part due to making sure we have the right stores in the right place.
“Whilst this led to a small number of store closures in 2018, we continue to look for new food store opportunities.”