A RECORD £ 19 million spent on developments and acquisitions by Ipswich and Norwich Co-op saw trading surplus dip to £ 6.3 million, from a record £ 11 million in 2003.
Despite restrained profits the annual review shows that it has still been possible to transfer £ 3.7 million to reserves in order to fund future growth.
Overall turnover remained broadly static at £ 267.2 million as the contribution of new foodstores was offset by disposals of motor group assets.
Following a record result in 2004, last year turnover rose, in like-for-like terms, by £ 4.4 million, or 1.8 per cent, and by the year-end new units had achieved profitable sales of £ 15.1 million reflecting the underlying success of the society's development strategy.
Membership continues to rise and the society has maintained its commitment to paying a cash dividend, now three per cent on all purchases bearing dividend. This year members will share in a distribution of dividend totalling £ 3,311,759 for the year.
In the summer, the society won the Evening Star's Hearts in Action Award for the support it gives to hundreds of local groups and charities through its Community Dividend scheme and its many other community links in the towns and villages where it trades.
The society's Member Education Department now has almost 1,000 people involved weekly in clubs and activities, not including those involved in the Co-op Band and Co-op Juniors. Its programme for schools and young people has also gone from strength to strength.
Many tributes have been paid to William Brown the society's Chief Executive, who retired at the end of October. Richard Samson, formerly of Heart of England Co-op, has succeeded him as Chief Executive, and the society's huge development programme is set to continue with new-build stores at Long Stratton and Fifer's Lane, Norwich, both due to open early next year.
Meanwhile Jean Lockie has been appointed President of the society.
Mrs Lockie has been a director for the past 11 years and Vice-President, since October 2000. Before joining the Ipswich & Norwich board she served on the Member Education Committee for six years.
She was elected by her fellow board members at their first meeting following the Annual General Meeting and will serve until October 2005. She succeeds, Beryl Fulcher, who retired after the Annual Meeting. Mrs Lockie is only the second woman to be society President. John Holmes has been appointed Vice-President.