Heart of England reports 7% sales increase and doubled operating profit

In its interim results the society hailed a solid performance in a challenging retail market

The Heart of England Co-operative has reported a solid financial performance in the first half of 2017 despite increasingly challenging retail conditions.

The society has recorded like for like sales increases of 6.97% in the 21-week period to June 17th, despite fierce competition, ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the austerity measures which continue to put pressure on household disposable income.

Operating profit stands at £2m – an increase of more than 100% over the same time last year.

Food sales over the period rose by 5.73% despite tough competition from national multiples and from budget chains such as Aldi and Lidl.

Chief executive Ali Kurji said the ongoing programme of investment in all the society’s food stores and funeral homes continued to reap dividends.

The new Long Lawford facility – built on the site of the former store – is performing well ahead of budget, while smaller refurbishment projects in Old Bilton, Stoney Stanton Road and Warwick Gates also continue to pay off.

The newly extended Meriden store is performing extremely well and there are more Food Division investment projects in the pipeline.

On the Funerals side, like-for-like sales over the same 21-week period increased by 16.04%, with recent investments in Kenpas Highway, Coventry and Kenilworth all resulting in satisfactory performances.

Related: Central England reports sales growth of 2.6% in its half-year results

The society’s net assets stand at £37.7m.

Mr Kurji said: “The trading environment continues to remain extremely challenging and very competitive and there are further uncertainties following the Brexit vote.

“Retailing continues to struggle and all the indicators since Brexit are pointing towards a decline in growth compounded by the continued austerity measures and the pressures on household disposable income.”

He added: “Despite the difficult conditions the society remains in a very sound and strong financial position.

“The society has continued to operate with positive cash flow and the cash reserves will be utilised for profitable projects as and when required.”

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