Chelmsford Star reports sales growth of 3.9% in half-yearly results

Chief executive Barry Wood says the results were driven by strong performances in its core food and funeral businesses

Essex-based Chelmsford Star Co-operative has boosted year-on-year sales by 3.9%, its interim report for the 28 weeks to 11 August 2018 reveals.

Sales were up 4.4% on the the same period last year, while trading profit saw a 12.3% year-on-year increase for the period to £601,000.

Chief executive Barry Wood said the results were driven by strong performances in its core food and funeral businesses, which had been impacted by investment behind the scenes.

The society’s food business, including fuel, has recorded a year-on-year increase in trading profitability of 10.84%, while the funeral business enjoyed a year-on-year growth in turnover of 31.9%.

But its Quadrant department stores saw a 6% drop in sales, which the society attributes to the decline in furniture business and insolvency of big brands across the UK high street.

Earlier this year Chelmsford Star, which operates 52 trading outlets across Essex, was awarded the Best for Community Impact in the National Business Charity Awards. The co-operative reports that 33p in every £1 spent in Chelmsford Star’s stores benefited the local economy over this period.

Mr Wood said: “For the first time in five years, high street shop prices have inflated. Couple this with the rise in interest rates, and as we move into the second half of the year many of us will find our disposable income severely squeezed.”

Operating costs at the society were also up by 3.93% as a results of increased distribution costs associated with the increased food turnover, the unbudgeted two stores still operating in the period, personnel cost pressures and greater-than-anticipated increases in energy prices.

During this period, the society raised a total of £77,912 for its charity of the year, Little Havens Hospice, through lottery, raffles, marathons, book sales and walks in which colleagues and members took part.

In May 2018 the conversion of £5.00 per 1,000 points was approved by members at the AGM.

Looking ahead, the board says it remains confident in the society’s business plan and capacity to deliver it, in spite of inflation affecting the retail market.

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