Central England Co-op has announced its results for the year to 23 January, with operating profit up £5.6m to £21.1m.
The society says the result was driven by strong trading an increase in gross sales by 3% to £869m (previous year: £843.8m), alongside asset disposals.
Capital expenditure of £21.2m included seven new food stores, 15 store regenerations and two new funeral sites, and net assets rose by £16.4m to £208.1m.
Members, colleagues and communities shared a £3.1m dividend pay-out, says the report.
The society also launched its “new purpose” to create “a sustainable society for all, with the ambitious goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
Its response to Covid-19 saw more than four million items of Personal Protective Equipment sourced, over 1,000 temporary colleagues hired and the launch of several new services including eco-friendly home delivery, click and collect and community food hubs.
Central England donated more than 350,000 items to over 64 local food banks and worked with FareShare Midlands to create more than 2.1 million meals for those in need during the past 12 months.
“Frontline colleagues rewarded for going above and beyond with an extra week’s pay and enhanced discount,” it added.
Chief executive Debbie Robinson said: “I want to thank our society heroes, the frontline colleagues in our food stores, funeral homes, coffin factory, crematorium and distribution centres, who have stopped at nothing to support our families and keep our communities fed.
“The overall society performance has been solid during the past 12 months, with total gross sales in continuing operations growing by 3%. Trading profit of £28m was well ahead of the previous year (£17.5m).
“The protection of our colleagues, members and customers, has been our number one focus throughout the pandemic, and we have reacted quickly to implement the highest level of safety measures across all our sites.
“We continue to be faced with uncertain times ahead but have proven our ability to adapt and be agile, not only in a rapidly changing environment, but also in response to the needs and requirements of our members and customers.
“Going forward, we believe we will come out of this crisis stronger, both individually and collectively, as a society. We have a clear strategy for future growth and innovation, investing in digital offerings, application of new technology, data analytics and the regeneration of community food stores across our trading estate.”
President Jane Avery said: “During these uncertain times, we have never forgotten what sits at our core – our co-operative values and principles.
“This year, more than ever, has seen us forge closer links with the co-operative movement to make sure we are involved with important society-wide issues, such as food poverty, keeping our colleagues safe from abuse whilst they work, and tackling climate change.”
- This post was amended on 20 April to correct figures in the first two pars.