Chelmsford Star Co-operative has reported gross takings for the 52 weeks to 30 January 2016 of £101.2m (2014/15: £104.5m), and the society has declared a year of “exceptional growth” in its Travel, Funerals and department store divisions.
Reporting on the decrease in gross takings, the report notes that the financial year 2014/15 was one of 53 weeks, which therefore distorts comparisons. Adjusting for this, together with new openings and store closures, there was a like-for-like decline in sales of 1.5%.
Gross profit for the year decreased 3.2% – down to £21,397,323 from last year’s figure of £22,543,261.
The trading profit of the Food business is down £1,091,718 on last year, impacted by the decline in sales and also in part due to “the Federal Retail Trading Service (FRTS) move to cheaper prices across its convenience business, impacting margin”. The society stated that during the next financial year it will be reviewing its pricing policy, independent of FRTS.
Five Food stores were refurbished during the year. This led to a loss of trade amounting to £300,000 due to closures for the work to be carried out. In previous years, refurbishments have been conducted while stores remained open.
Departmental stores gross takings for the year amounted to £10.2m (2014/15: £10.1m). On a like-for-like basis, taking into account the longer 2014 financial year and the closure of the Canvey Bed Centre, this means gross takings have grown by 4.9%.
Chelmsford Star’s board has also approved phase one of Chelmsford quadrant’s refurbishment and work is underway, with plans to extend the programme.
Chelmsford Star’s Travel division reported gross takings £8.8m (2014/15: £8.1m) – a like-for-like increase of 8.5%. This increase was described as “phenomenal” during a difficult year for the tourism industry due to popular holiday destinations being hit by terrorist incidents or economic unrest.
Trading profit for Travel amounted to £182,000, compared with last year’s figure of £142,000. On a like-for-like basis, this represents an increase of trading profit of 30%.
After appearing to have steadied last year after a number of years of “exceptional growth”, Funerals grew once again by 6.8% to £1.9m (2014/15: £1.8m). Chelmsford Star continues to support the bereaved within the community, through individual counselling and group support, described in the report as “a valued service especially given that there is no free national bereavement service available locally.” The trading profit of the Funeral business amounted to £355,717, compared with £287,372 last year – a like-for-like increase of 26.2%.
There were 3,300 new member sign-ups compared with 3,984 last year. The society’s total membership is now 79,468.
Additionally, the society recycled approximately 98.17% of the waste produced, compared with 93.13% the previous year.