MIDLANDS Co-op has announced increased profits and sales after what the society says has been a challenging, but rewarding year.
Figures announced for the year ending January 22nd show that profit before distributions to stakeholders rose to £ 20.3 million, compared to £ 15.3 million previously.
In addition, gross sales grew to £ 787 million, an increase of 3.8 per cent; capital investment was a record £ 47 million; net assets have increased to £ 243 million – again, an all time high – and £ 2.6 million – representing 17 per cent of the society's trading profit – has been returned to stakeholders.
All the core businesses – Retail, Dairy, Travel and Funeral – contributed to the society's growth as the total number of employees increased by over 400 to 8,400.
Despite intense competition, Retail achieved a total turnover of £ 437.2 million representing an increase of 4.3 per cent – 2.3 per cent on a like of like basis.
Within the retail division, the society's food stores achieved a turnover on a like for like basis of £ 351 million – a like for like increase of 2.2 per cent on the year. Turnover growth from the non-food offer within food stores continues with like for like turnover increasing by 15 per cent .
Midlands Co-op department stores continue to compete well, achieving a 2.4 per cent increase with in-town department stores reporting steady growth.
Dairy sales were up on the previous year achieving gross sales of £ 83 million, an increase of seven per cent on 2003/04. Volumes processed at Central Dairies increased by seven per cent year on year to almost 200 million litres. A total of £ 1.3 million was invested in capital equipment including specialist shrink-wrapping machinery.
In Travel, gross sales increased by £ 4.6 million – despite the effect of the Indian Ocean Tsunami disaster on the final weeks of trading. Foreign exchange sales were particularly strong, increasing by over 14 per cent to £ 50 million.
In the society's Funeral business, 11,881 funerals were conducted whille masonry sales increased by 18 per cent – boosted by the acquisition of Bates & Saddler during the year.
The society invested a record-breaking £ 47 million in capital projects over the past year. Major acquisitions included three Budgens stores and eight Metro stores within the retail operation. A new store was opened at Leabrooks in Derbyshire.
In addition to the new masonry business, two new funeral homes and two new travel shops were also acquired.
The significantly increased retained profit for the year and the increased value of the investment property portfolio – now valued at £ 63 million – have taken the society's net assets to over £ 243 million.
Chief Executive Willie Tucker said: `I am delighted Midlands Co-op has once again demonstrated that it is a force to be reckoned with. Despite the challenging environment in which we operate, our results speak for themselves and I should like to pay tribute to employees, members and directors for their contribution to this success.
`Thanks to our trading success and financial stability, the society has delivered on its Stakeholder Strategy by returning 17 per cent of its trading profit to members, employees and the community. For me, this is a particular highlight.`