MIDLANDS Co-op has announced half-year record sales and profit levels for the seventh year running.
The society ? Britain's second biggest independent co-op ? say the figures for the 28 weeks to 9th August are impressive against a background of volatility within the travel business.
Sales at £ 348 million represent a like for like increase of 3.1% year on year , while trading profit has increased by 13%, from £ 10.3 million to £ 11.5 million.
Profit before distributions and taxation is up by 20% whilst the society has eliminated all of its borrowings in the last six months.
Midlands Co-op Chief Executive Willie Tucker told the News: "By anybody's standards these results are outstanding and demonstrate the success of our aggressive business strategy. Without doubt we are one of the strongest societies financially across the entire Co-operative Movement as all of our four core trading areas ? retail, travel, funeral and dairy ? have developed a successful trading formula and are performing well above their respective industry sector.
"Significant growth in particular has been achieved in our main core business area of food retailing where the investments in new and existing stores, over a number of years, have provided strong returns. Like for like sales are up by 5% with a surge in sales of salads, soft drinks, beer and barbecues over the summer season."
The period saw over £ 14 million capital investment in stores and systems and an even greater figure has been committed for the rest of the year. In addition to the ongoing performance of constant refurbishment, 2003 will also see the opening of three new food stores prior to Christmas at Yardley, Birmingham; Silkmore Lane, Stafford and Leabrooks in Leicestershire.
And, as reported last week, Midlands have acquired 30 former Alldays stores from the Co-operative Group to take their current food store portfolio past the 150 mark.
Added Mr Tucker: "We have a fully integrated and ambitious strategic business plan which is providing real dividends. The more the society makes, the more money becomes available for furthering the commercial and community benefits."