New food stores and a strong year in Funerals has resulted in Tamworth Co-operative Society reporting its best results for a quarter of a century.
The independent society, which operates a large town centre department store, a modern supermarket, 11 convenience stores, eight funeral service locations and five post offices in Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Derbyshire, recorded a trading surplus of £1.1m for the year ended 28 January 2017, up 31.8%, or £257,000, on the previous year.
Chief executive Julian Coles said that while the food division was mainly responsible for the rise, all the society’s trading areas performed better, making it an “all round success story”.
“We are delighted – but not complacent – about this highly encouraging set of results,” he said. “This annual financial review is the first to take account of a full year’s trading at our new food locations in Glascote and Dosthill. We invested heavily in both the new stores, so it is heartening to know that they have proved as popular with local people as we had hoped.
“Our funeral division had another strong year and even our department store contributed to the surplus in spite of a most testing trading environment.”
A 17 per cent rise in the society’s property income added £80,000 to the coffers, with a further £112,000 coming in the form of a trade bonus from the Co-op’s food buying group. The latter, however, was related to the previous year’s buying activities.
The financial year was also rewarding for the society’s members. In 2016 the co-operative turned 130, and to celebrate the anniversary the board announced a special one-off bonus dividend of 1% on qualifying purchases – on top of the regular 2% dividend.
“In addition to investing in the areas we trade in, we will continue to offer meaningful support to our local communities, just as we have done for the past 130 years,” said Mr Coles.
Last year Tamworth gifted more than £30,000 to local community organisations, with 14 groups benefiting from its Community Dividend Fund, and a further four organisations receiving £5,000 each from its new Cash in the Bag initiative, funded by the 5p levy on carrier bags.
Taking into account factors such as dividend payments, the retained surplus figure after tax has increased from £419,000 to £632,000.
“There is no doubt that everything came together during the period under review to complete a remarkable trading year,” said Mr Coles.
“However, because of the strength of these results from all our trading divisions, it will be very difficult to match these numbers in future years.
“I would like to put on record my thanks to all our staff for their tremendous efforts. I would also like to thank our loyal customers and members who are the key to our success and enjoy a share in it. We are determined to keep their interests to the fore of every decision we make.”
The two biggest developments during the financial period were the extensive refurbishments of the Wood End convenience store and Coseley funeral branch. In contrast, the society decided to close its garage and MOT centre which had sustained losses in recent years ‘despite the valiant efforts of the staff.’ The society is currently taking advice regarding the future of the site.
The latest report sounds a note of caution regarding the society’s final salary pension scheme. Liability has risen in the year from £6,107,000 to £7,133,000.
This has resulted in the net assets being reduced from £13.3m to £12.4m. “While this is certainly a blow, it does not detract from the overall, very positive picture the latest report paints,” said Mr Coles.
“Changes in accounting standards make it difficult to compare results with different years, but we believe this is the strongest set of financial results, excluding exceptional items, for at least 25 years.”
The report can be viewed online at the society’s results archive.