Heart of England Co-op has announced a record trading profit for the seventh year in a row.
The results for the year ended January 25th also confirm that the Nuneaton-based society has increased its trading profit by 90 per cent overall in the past two years.
Despite difficult trading conditions, Heart of England Co-op improved its profit performance on the previous year by 36 per cent, recording a trading profit of £ 3.1 million, representing five per cent of net sales.
Turnover totalled £ 67.9 million, an increase of 5.5 per cent over the previous year, with no store openings or closures during the year. In a period of low inflation, this clearly demonstrates substantial growth in market share.
It is the fifth successive year in which the society's total turnover has increased by more than five per cent on a like-for-like basis.
The society has also continued to invest substantially in its renewal programme, with an additional £ 1.8 million committed in 2002, bringing total capital expenditure to over £ 10 million in six years.
The society operated throughout the year with no net borrowings and accumulated a substantial cash surplus which has been earmarked for further development as new opportunities arise.
All Heart of England Co-op trading divisions produced positive performances in 2002.
The Food Division produced a sales increase of 7.1 per cent, once again exceeding the majority of national competitors' sales performances. It is also the seventh successive year the Food Division has achieved a record trading result.
The Society's Non-Food Division increased its market share during the year, despite the highly competitive nature of the sector, with a sales increase of 3.5 per cent coupled with a significant improvement in profitability.
The Funeral Division increased net sales by 2.3 per cent and maintained market share despite the decline of the overall market.
Richard Samson, Chief Executive of Heart of England Co-op, commented: "Our financial performance in 2002 has been outstanding, with a number of exceptional milestones.
"Our seventh consecutive year of record trading profit was a remarkable achievement against a generally difficult retail climate, but I am particularly pleased that we have improved our trading profit by 90 per cent over the past two years, from a sound base.
"Our latest trading profits equate to five per cent of net sales, helping to establish the society as one of the very top performing co-ops in the UK. Our cash reserves will enable us to pursue our policy of updating and expanding our businesses without the need for external finance in the short-term."