Midcounties Co-operative post record profit

Midcounties Co-operative, Britain’s second biggest independent society, has announced a record profit of £26 million for the year ended January 22nd.

This represents a 35 per cent increase on the previous year’s figure despite tough trading conditions and, as a result, the society will recommend an increase in members’ dividend from 1.5p to 1.8p per point at the AGM next month.

Midcounties said its food stores, travel branches, pharmacies, funeral homes, childcare nurseries and employee benefits businesses all helped to ring up a 3.4 per cent increase in total gross sales (excluding figures for its Motor Group, which was sold in January 2010).

The society also expanded outside its core area by growing its network of nurseries and, this summer, will launch its Co-operative Energy business supplying electricity and gas to the public on a nationwide basis.

Chief Executive Ben Reid said the results were an outstanding achievement, but insisted that a co-op is about more than making money. 

He said he was proud of the society’s Investors in People Gold Award status; making the Sunday Times’ ‘Top 25 Best Big Companies to work for’ list; and gaining the Business in the Community Example of Excellence in Education award for its work with Sutherland Business and Enterprise College.

Commented Mr Reid: “It has been a very challenging, but rewarding year and now we have to focus on the future. There is every indication that the economic climate is going to remain difficult and it is into these conditions we will be launching Co-operative Energy and developing Co-operative Childcare.

“We are optimistic both ventures will quickly establish a foothold in the market. It is exciting for a regionally-based society to be extending its reach, and we believe with the continuing engagement of our colleagues and support from our membership, we can continue to go from strength to strength.”

The results show food division profits up 30 per cent, while pharmacy profits rose 23 per cent. £2.9 million was distributed to members as a share of the profits 

In the report, President Patrick Gray noted the imminent move to more national activities, but said it would not change the society’s community-based values: “At its heart, Midcounties will remain essentially regionally based, accountable locally to members who shop with us and who live close enough to know their representatives first hand and to turn up and have their say when the occasion demands. Underpinned by our success in the market place, this model makes our society a beacon for the Movement.” 

Midcounties returned the equivalent of more than £1.2 million back to its local communities through fund-raising, grant giving and volunteering and worked with 1,100 community organisations during the year.

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