The Lincolnshire Co-operative saw sales grow by 3.5% in the first half of 2019, compared to the same period last year.
Group trading surplus for the same period was £7.1m, down £600,000 from the previous year. The society attributes this drop to severe cuts in the pharmacy and post office services alongside external factors such as rising costs.
The food business witnessed a 6.5% rise in sales while customer visits were up by 5.7% to 12.6m. Sales were also up 4.1% at Lincolnshire Co-op’s travel agencies as demand for cruise holidays continued to grow.
Lincolnshire operates filling stations across its trading area, some of which were closed down for refurbishment, leading to a drop in the petrol volume.
Lincolnshire’s funeral homes and crematorium also saw a decrease in demand for funeral services, reflecting a national picture.
Lincolnshire pharmacies fulfilled 2.83m prescriptions – growth of 1.9% in a nationally static market. They also carried out 7,982 flu vaccines, gave 1,297 blood pressure checks and helped 643 people lose weight sensibly through a free weight management scheme.
The society invested a total of £7.7m in capital projects during the half year, opening new services including a food store and pharmacy in Newark Road in North Hykeham, a funeral home in Scunthorpe and the completion of a major refurbishment of Whaplode Food Store and Filling Station. It also invested in energy-saving technologies like LED lighting and building management systems in food stores.
The co-op transferred £3.1m to its reserves, after accounting for dividend, interest and tax. Colleagues also received a profit share of 50% of a weekly wage.
Lincolnshire Co-op’s chief executive Ursula Lidbetter said: “We’re pleased to welcome over 12,000 new members to the society and attract more customers, particularly considering challenging trading conditions.
“Our sales performance shows the quality of our offer across a range of diverse businesses. This gives us the confidence to invest in our valued services and keep on using our ideas, energy and resources to work together in our communities on projects that make a difference – from the Cornhill Quarter to reducing energy use in our business.”