The Channel Islands Co-operative Society has reported a small decrease in turnover in what chief executive Colin Macleod has described as a “significant year”.
The annual report shows a turnover of £168.7m in the 52 weeks up to 10 January 2016 – a decrease of 0.49% on last year’s £169.6m. The report attributes this fall to the closure of the society’s Total Sport business, food deflation and lower fuel prices. Food and fuel sales fell 1.1% compared with the previous year.
However, the society’s Homemaker stores were up 1.3%, and Funeralcare also rose 34.5% on last year. The society’s Travelmaker business continues to expand with a new office at Grand Marché St Peter, Jersey. The branch opened in November and has reported a “phenomenal” start to business, beyond the society’s expectations.
The last year saw the resolution of the long running question of redevelopment at Charing Cross, St Helier. After 15 years, the society reached an agreement with the States of Jersey Planning Department, the Jersey Architecture Commission and the National Trust for Jersey. The plans include a Premier Inn Hotel, a new and enlarged Co-operative Locale store and the preservation of historic buildings.
The directors’ report looked to the year ahead. It read: “This year is also likely to prove challenging due to the closure of the society’s highly successful food store at Charing Cross to facilitate the redevelopment of the site. The society has opened a temporary store close to Charing Cross but the sales area is considerably smaller and it cannot therefore generate the same level of trade.”
The annual review reported no evidence that food price increases would match the general level of food price increases in the immediate future. But it also cited two new stores – one in Grouville and one in St Sampson – plus the refurbishment of Grand Marché, a new petrol station at St Sampson and food store at St Helier as expected boosts to sales in the coming months.
£8.3m was returned to members through dividends, dividend stamps, travel vouchers and share interest, while over £250,000 was donated to local charitable and community causes.
But for the one-off costs, the society would have been reporting an improved performance
Total operating profit increased by £747,000 during the year to £10m, and the society benefited from a net gain of £2.96m thanks to a revaluation of some of its investment property.
The closure of the society’s two on-island warehouses created a series of one-off costs and a marked increase in expenses, although the report stated that the benefits of the closures were “starting to flow through and the profitability of food sales had improved markedly”.
Commenting on the decreased turnover in the context of the changes as the society, the report concluded: “The underlying trading performance is therefore very strong despite the fall in turnover and, but for the one-off costs, the society would have been reporting an improved performance.”