CO-OPERATIVES UK chairman Ben Reid has hailed new figures relating to turnover and profits in Co-op stores as "staggering" and "remarkable".
The consumer co-operatives performance review statistics for September 2003/January 2004 released at Congress show total turnover in the Movement's 42 retail societies up by 6.4 per cent to £ 13.3 billion.
Net profit was up by 38 per cent from £ 320 million to £ 441 million and, as a percentage of sales, from 2.7 per cent to 3.5 per cent.
In regard to the improved turnover figure, Mr Reid (pictured) told Congress: "This is a quite remarkable increase in today's fiercely competitive world and, clearly, the Co-operative Group's successful acquisition of Alldays has contributed significantly to this increase."
However Mr Reid said the trading profit after depreciation was probably a more important figure ? and this showed what the chairman termed a "staggering increase," up by 34 per cent to £ 473 million.
Trade profit after depreciation percentage of sales was up 0.7 per cent to 3.7 per cent and, explained Mr Reid, this should be compared with the original target set several years ago of 2.5 per cent, which at that time, seemed a daunting challenge for everyone in the Movement.
"Another positive indicator is that a total of 27 societies increased their net profit, while 20-odd societies have increased their turnover and profitability.
"The figures speak for themselves. In anyone's language, this is a really good news story for the Movement. Even Co-op optimists would not have forecast this five years ago."
Added Mr Reid: "We are all in this together and we all need a strong Co-op Movement. The challenge now is to ensure we don't slip backwards in future and Co-ops UK will not shirk from reminding societies that performance matters."
The figures also revealed:
? An increase of Return on Capital Employed to 9 per cent from 6.8per cent
? Improvement in the Movement's trading profit (after depreciation) ? rising by £ 120 million from £ 353 million to £ 473 million (from 3.0% of sales to 3.5% of sales).
? Food market share increases to 6% up from 5.6%
? A rise in number of food outlets to 3,250.
`The results show that the hard work put in by the boards, management and employees of our societies is paying off," added Mr Reid.
`Co-operative retailers have been investing heavily in getting the offer right for their members and customers. Investment in premises, products and customer service across our trading formats is leading to improved financial performance."
Pauline Green, Chief Executive of Co-operatives UK, also welcomed the results, which she said built on progress already made.
"The last five years have seen a gradual and solid improvement in the performance of the Movement," she said. "Our improvement in both profitability and market share is the result of greater focus on business performance, acquisitions and improved financial management.
"The Movement's strengthening of its convenience store offer is paying dividends with increasing numbers of customers in easy reach of a Co-op outlet.`