Lincolnshire Co-op’s half year report to 6 March said increased sales have driven a £2m increase in trading surplus to £8.2m.
The society hailed a strong performances from its food stores, with sales going up by 11.6%. Pharmacy income grew 2.5% although 1.8% fewer
prescriptions were dispensed, in line with the national picture.
At its funeral division, sales were up 3.4% to £170.7m. “Teams supported families brilliantly,” says the report, “‘guiding them through the restrictions placed on ceremonies. We also offer a memorial service for those who wish to celebrate the life of their loved one when it is safe to do so.”
Travel agency and petrol station sales were dramatically affected by lockdown restrictions, the report adds.
Lincolnshire’s post offices – which the society subsidises as “important community services” – saw a drop in footfall over the pandemic.
“We hope to see customer numbers increase again, but we remain concerned about the pressures faced by all sub-postmasters,” adds the report.
“The pandemic’s bearing on our travel and property businesses is significant and unfortunately, the hard times are not over yet.
“The overall loss in our travel branches this half year was £930,000 and in total, since the pandemic struck, is over £3.3m.We have no doubt that when people want to travel again, the expert service and security of booking with a travel agent will be in demand and we’ll continue to support our
teams through this uncertain time.”
Lockdown restrictions have also forced many of Lincolnshire’s commercial tenants to close and the society says it has been working with them to find ways to support them, with measures such as rent concessions, payment plans and practical help.
The society has worked on several new food stores, including in Keelby near Grimsby, which is due to open later this year, and on the site of a former pub in Retford. Its new food store in Whittlesey – the society’s first in Cambridgeshire – has begun trading, with a virtual opening ceremony,
Two of the co-op’s post offices transferred to a new operator during the half year. Spalding Post Office and Sincil Street Post Office in Lincoln are now
under the control of VPS Group, which runs a number of other post offices in the East Midlands.
Community efforts included the society’s pharmacists mixing and delivering doses for the Covid-19 vaccination programme, while the Community Champions scheme raised over £150,381 – which will fund life-saving 20 new community defibrillators and help maintain existing defibrillators, along with donations to local emergency care charities, such as first responders.