MIDLANDS Co-op seems set to achieve a ninth consecutive year of record results following the publication of its interim report for the half-year ended August 7th.
Headline achievements are:
* 4.7 per cent overall gross sales increase
* Growth in all core businesses
Â· 5 per cent sales increase in retail food store sales
* Trading profit increase of 5.7 per cent to £ 10.9 million
Â·*Profit before tax and distributions increasing by 24 per cent to £ 16.4 million
Â·*Over 20 million of capital investment
Â·*Very low gearing ratio
As a result, the society is about to make its first dividend payment on the newly launched Members' card – the return of a true Co-op Dividend after many years.
A strong trading performance in the first half year has seen overall gross sales increase by 4.7 per cent to £ 422 million. All core businesses have contributed to this overall growth but particularly retail, which has seen the opening of three new stores and the acquisition of 30 former Alldays stores in the last year.
A trading profit of £ 10.9 million – up by £ 600,000 on the equivalent period last year – represents growth of 5.7 per cent, which is seen as a highly commendable result in the light of fierce competition in the convenience sector.
Despite unfavourable global conditions, the travel division has performed well, adjusting and adapting to the external environment by closing unprofitable shops, taking advantage of the improved margins provided by the Co-operative Travel Trading Group, expansion of foreign exchange business, investment in the profitable business travel sector and developing tailor-made holidays for customers who prefer an 'unpackaged' approach.
The funeral division has increased market share in a period when the national death rate has declined more rapidly than forecast.
Dairy has pursued a strategy of gaining market share in the retail and food services sector to increase volumes processed at Central Dairies, and despite industry overcapacity, this has proved a successful strategy.
The Midlands Co-op launched a Members' Card Scheme in November 2003 enabling members to collect dividend points on purchases. An interim dividend is shortly to be paid, following the recent payment of an Employee Dividend to qualifying employees.
Chief Executive Willie Tucker commented: `I am delighted Midlands Co-op continues to maintain its position as the region's largest community retailer. I should like to record my sincere appreciation to staff for their efforts in contributing to the society's success and to all members and customers for their loyal support.`