Central England Co-operative has announced a strong financial performance for the first half of 2018. The society’s interim results show sales grew by 3.6% to £476.9m compared with the same period last year, while trading profit rose by £1m (8%) to £12.9m.
In the first six months, the business invested £12.4m in a growth strategy which includes the opening of six new food stores, one new funeral home and two new funeral booking offices alongside the renovation of another 32 sites. Further new openings and refurbishments planned for the second half of the year.
Martyn Cheatle, Central England chief executive, said the results were “encouraging” and reflected the “hard work of our colleagues” and continued focus across the society on providing great service and products to members and customers.
“Our performance so far in 2018 has again demonstrated the society’s resilience as a strong and successful independent co-operative business,” he added.
“However, our resilience continues to be tested by tough trading conditions which we expect to remain challenging and highly competitive for the foreseeable future.
“We remain confident in our strategy and our co-operative point of difference to deliver sustainable business growth and provide a relevant and attractive proposition to our members, customers and local communities.”
The society stated that like-for-like sales in convenience stores outperformed the market – in part due to “exceptional trading during the harsh winter and hot summer”. The society’s funeral operations also had a strong first half of 2018, while the society announced an expansion of the Travel business, taking on six travel shops previously operated by Thomas Cook.
During the first half of the year, Central England distributed £2.3m distributed to members, colleagues and the community, with 80 groups sharing nearly £90,000 from its Community Dividend Fund.
The organisation also announced it has raised over £800,000 in the first 12 months of its link up with charity partner Dementia UK, and was rolling out its food redistribution scheme across all Food stores, which will support over 250 local charities in partnership with FareShare East Midlands.