Radstock Co-op increases sales following expansion and introduction of new ranges

The society reported an operating surplus of £253,998, down from £271,406 the previous year

In its annual report for the year to February 2017, Radstock Co-operative has reported an operating surplus of £253,998, down from £271,406 the previous year.

Gross sales were up by 4.5% from £28.7m to £30m, and like-for-like sales rose 4% to £1,145,233. Retail turnover was £27m, an increase from £26m in 2015/2016.

With customers’ shopping needs continually changing, the society has introduced new ranges with greater emphasis on food to go, meal solutions, in-store bakery and fresh fruit and vegetables.

The society’s farm also managed to turn around the loss forecast, reporting a surplus of £5,078 for the year 2015/2016.

In spite of a difficult year for dairy farming, Radstock increased the size of the farm’s milking herd, which now stands at 501 in milk, leading to increased milk volume while maintaining cost controls. The society plans to make infrastructure investments to increase efficiency in the dairy operation.

External factors also impacted on the fair value of the society’s pension liability, affecting its published reserves. A reduction in the discount rate used in the actuarial calculations from 4% to 2.7% increased the fair value of the pension liability.

The co-op supported two charities for the trading year, SWALLOW and Freewheelers, each receiving an initial donation of £1,000. The carrier bag levy also helped the society earn £10,500, which was allocated to community hospitals and health centre in the trading areas.

Chief executive Don Morris said the year had brought challenges

Writing in the society’s annual report, chief executive Don Morris highlighted the year’s challenges, including the economic downturn, changes in consumer shopping habits and the expansion of discounter supermarkets. The co-op’s response has been to invest in existing stores and enter new trading areas. The society has also extended its trading area from Somerset into Wiltshire, opening a new store serving Castle Mead development in Hilperton, Trowbridge.

Another area of focus was investing in various stores in energy efficient refrigeration and freezer units.

In total, Radstock runs 16 retail stores, including a large supermarket with a non-food offering, food hall and travel agency and a 1,000-acre dairy farm.

Last year, the society began converting dividend card members to membership of the society. The dividend card scheme was historically run as a loyalty card, with points accumulated through store spending returned to customers twice yearly as vouchers.

Dividend card holders did not have the right to vote in elections or attend AGMs, and customers applied separately to become a member of the society by paying £2 into a share account. The dividend and membership scheme have now been combined, with £2 diverted from dividend card holders’ loyalty patment to a share account.

Through the dividend scheme, members received a total of £87,465 in 2016. The total number of members stands at 8,957, up from 1,930 the previous year.

The society, which won Business Partner of the Year at the Somerdale Pavilion in Keynsham, is now planning its 150th anniversary next year.

“We have entered 2017 in extraordinary uncertain times,” said Mr Morris. “As a society, we are committed to pursue our growth strategy whilst ensuring that the society remains financially stable and secure.”

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