WEST MIDLANDS Co-op has posted record half-year profits of nearly £ 2.3 million.
Chief Executive Ben Reid said the 4.3 per cent increase on the same period last year was a remarkable achievement in a difficult trading environment. Turnover also hit a new high, rising from £ 77.9 million to £ 85.7 million, an increase of just over ten per cent.
Mr Reid said the society's management and directors were confident the good results would continue, resulting in `a very significant trading result` for the whole 12 months.
`The increase in profitability of 4.3 per cent is a clear indication that the improvements made to the society's trading position over the past few years have now been consolidated,` said Mr Reid. `There is now a robust platform upon which to build the long-term success of the society.`
The figures, revealed in the Directors' Report, are for the 26 weeks which ended on March 24th. Balance sheet assets now stand at £ 60.3 million.
Mr Reid said the society's convenience stores and supermarkets had performed well in the face of intense competition in the sector. Turnover in the Food Division rose by 3.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis.
After several difficult years, turnover in the Travel Division took a significant step forward, up by 22.4 per cent and the Funeral Division made a very positive start to the year, with an increase in the number of funerals conducted and an overall increase in market share.
In Pharmacy, a range of Government initiatives had created uncertainty and significant challenges, claimed Mr Reid.
`It is, therefore, a real tribute to the commitment of our employees that this division goes from strength to strength,` he said.
Two important initiatives were gathering momentum; the development of a model pharmacy combining a range of professional support services in a single branch, and a ground-breaking training programme to ensure pharmacy staff are fully equipped to respond to the challenges of ?the new NHS'.
Occupancy levels in the society's care homes had improved and the directors remain convinced the co-operative sector has a key role to play in providing support for older people.
During the six months West Midlands Co-op's Community and Membership Development Committee awarded a total of £ 20,725 to community schemes in its trading area.
Society employees also gave a considerable amount of time to local schools, including industrial mentoring, Young Enterprise projects and educational in-store visits, making a major contribution to the workforce of tomorrow.