The society’s profit represents an increase of six per cent on the previous year. Its annual turnover topped £81 million. Ali Kurji, Chief Executive, said: “The last year has been a particularly tough year for trading — even tougher than the year before — so we are absolutely delighted to have achieved record levels of profit once more.
“Everywhere has been hit hard since the start of the downturn in early 2008 and the society is no exception to the current economic climate.
“The high rise in fuel costs and the credit crunch have hit the consumer pocket hard and certainly added to the extreme trading conditions.
“However we are pleased to say we have achieved satisfactory results across all of our trading divisions — food, non food, travel and funerals. Policies we have had in place in recent years are allowing us to continue to build an increasingly strong regional co-operative business.”
Mr Kurji highlighted the society’s food division as one of the strongest areas of the business, with like for like sales increasing by 8.6 per cent on the previous year. Non-food faced a difficult challenge in maintaining growth and profitability, particularly in electricals and furniture. However, like for like sales fell by one per cent over the year.
Travel division bucked the national trend and recorded a sales increase of 8.2 per cent over the year. Mr Kurji said although staff were delighted with the increase they were expecting a tough year ahead, with tour operators decreasing the commission and with the continuing growth in internet bookings.
Although the funerals industry is in decline nationally, the society’s funeral division has maintained its market share and increased sales by 12.8 per cent. Over the past year the society arranged 7.1 per cent more funerals than in the previous 12 month period.
Mr Kurji said increased profits would allow the society to continue sharing its success with customers, members and the trading area community. Money raised through the society’s Helping Hearts scheme — which for the last nine years has pledged every penny of the Heart of England’s tobacco profits to charitable organisations and worthwhile causes in the trading area — has topped £486,000.
Mr Kurji said: “Once again I would like to say a big thank you to the 988 staff who work at the society — both on the shop floor and behind the scenes. Without their ongoing loyalty and commitment we would not have been able to achieve this success.”