Lincolnshire Co-op has issued its interim report for the six months to 22 March, with a lift in performance, buoyed by a post-pandemic revival of the travel business.
Overall, sales in the first half rose 14.5% from £170.7m to £195.4m. Group trading surplus rose 8.2% from £8.2m to £8.9m.
But , warned the report, “the uncertain economic conditions, inflation and rising costs mean there are tough times to come for the public and businesses.
“This is a risk we are preparing for in the second half of the year and beyond. We’re a strong and resilient business and despite those pressures, we’re continuing to grow and support our communities.”
The report added that comparisons with the same period last year is difficult because the pandemic distorted the trading environmen with national lockdowns and tough travel restrictions.
“This year, restrictions were eased. It means we’ve seen the impact of people travelling again, whether it’s a car journey or a holiday. Sales increased from £0.5m to £16.6m in travel branches, made up of both new bookings and previous bookings which were delayed and which we are now accounting for.
“Sales were also up 61% in our petrol stations. In food, our teams dealt with the impact of a volatile supply chain which caused shortages across our range last autumn, though sales remained steady, assisted by two store openings in 2021.”
In the pharmacy divison, Income rose by 1.9% in pharmacies and the number of prescriptions dispensed rose 1.3%. The society was also heavily involved in the pandemic response, distributing over 56,000 lateral flow tests and administering Covid-19 vaccinations.
The lifting of restrictions means the funeral division can provide a wider range of services again, and the society is working through changes to funeral plan regulations, due to come into force in July, which will give customers stronger consumer protections.
Lincolnshire held its first in-person events for two years in December 2021 – with seven annual members’ meetings, two of them combined with online streaming for those who wished to take part from home; 650 members attended. During the six months, 8,630 members signed up for dividend cards, including 747 junior members; the society also celebrated signing up its 300,000th member.