HEART of England Co-op has announced a solid period of trading during the first half of its financial year despite the difficult economic climate.
The society, the largest independent retailer in the Coventry, Warwickshire and South Leicestershire region, confirmed that sales had increased by 1.1% for the half-year to June 18th.
This encouraging performance, which is compared to the same period last year, is particularly pleasing against an economic background where the CBI has reported in its distributive trades survey that 45 per cent of retailers have revealed that their sales are down, with only 22 per cent reporting that sales are up on the year to date.
The society's trading surplus for the 21-week period exceeded last year's all time record by 11.3% reaching £ 1.41m for the first time.
The Non-Food Division has shown an upward trend during the first half of the year achieving a sales increase of 2.2%. The Food Division continues to hold its market share.
The Funeral Division too improved its market share, with sales ahead of last year by more than 15.3%, despite the falling death rate. A five-figure sum has been invested in a new state-of-the-art funeral computer system.
The two Travelcare outlets received an 8.0% increase in sales commission, despite difficult trading conditions in the holiday marketplace.
There has been on-going success with the Member Privilege scheme that continues to bring in new members. More than 40,000 are now listed on the society's current database which continues to grow by around 1,000 new members per month.
Ali Kurji, Chief Executive of Heart of England Co-op, Society commented: "We are very pleased that our Interim Report shows an extremely strong trading performance which once again shows an increase on last year.
"However we are not complacent and know that we have got a tough second half ahead if we are to match last year's trading figures."