East of England upbeat despite drop in profits

East of England Co-operative — Britain’s third largest independent society — has reported a one per cent increase in turnover from continuing operations to £352.5 million for the...

But the society’s underlying trading profit is down £3.4m from the previous year’s record figure of £15.1m. Pre-tax profits amounted to £8.8m, the highest total since 2007, and the society said that, overall, it had delivered a resilient financial performance despite the hugely difficult economic climate.

East of England’s annual report said the one per cent increase in turnover had been driven by a strong performance in its distribution centre and 30 funeral branches. However supermarket and food store sales were down 0.4 per cent to £266.9m with like for like sales down 0.8 per cent, reflecting the economy and the increased competition from major multiples.

Douglas Field, Group General Manager — Finance & Technology, commented: “We have found our 2010/11 financial year challenging as consumers continued to face a difficult economic environment with tax increases, public sector cuts, rising unemployment and the lack of credit.

“Given the economic backdrop it’s a pleasure to report such a resilient performance. The efforts of our colleagues across the society are to be commended in helping achieve a positive result that saw increased turnover, increased members’ funds (up by £18.5m to £242.8m) and increased profit before taxation.

“We look forward to continuing to improve our businesses, providing new opportunities to increase turnover through acquisition, new ventures and enhancing existing activities.”

Mr Field added that energy efficiency and investing in technology, as well as the contribution from the society’s large investment property portfolio, were all important factors that would assist the society in future.

Meanwhile members are set to benefit from a successful year’s trading with a dividend payout of £3.1m, which equates to a rate of two per cent of qualifying purchases, while almost 3,000 employees have enjoyed bonuses to share in the society’s success.

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