The society’s profit was £26.4 million, with gross sales also up at 2.7 per cent to £943m. Payments to stakeholders increased by seven per cent to £3.3m. The society’s net assets also increased by £40m to £295m, including closing cash balances of £45.9m
Midlands also paid £6.3m to the Co-operative Group as a contribution towards the cost of implementing efficiencies within the Co-operative Retail Trading Group (CRTG) following the integration of Somerfield.
During, the year food achieved a strong trading performance, with an increase in like-for-like growth in convenience store sales up to £492m from £488m.
The growth achieved in 2010 reflected a number of positive initiatives including completion of a new, fully integrated, retail system with all food stores transferred to the new platform, the extension of the The Co-operative brand to 40 per cent of its estate, an aggressive approach to the development of stores and increased emphasis on communication to colleagues.
The society’s travel operation generated increased sales up from £284m to £311m despite the ash cloud and political instability in key destinations which brought disruption to the business. Business travel, the society’s websites, and self packaged holiday operation all performed strongly during the year.
In October, the society entered into negotiations to form a joint-venture company with Thomas Cook and the Co-operative Group into which each party will transfer their retail travel businesses. Contractual agreements have been reached, but subsequent interest from the authorities, regarding competition issues, has delayed the launch of the joint-venture operation.
The funeral division conducted 12,452 funerals during the year, a four per cent increase. Sales increased to £26m from £24m.
Last year, £23m was invested in the opening of five food stores, along with refurbishment of ten stores and investment in its IT system. A further 43 stores were converted to The Co-operative brand.
Chief Executive Martyn Cheatle said: “It has been a challenging year for the society, with household budgets being squeezed by rising fuel costs, tax increases and fears over unemployment, but the results demonstrate that Midlands Co-operative can successfully trade and grow through difficult times, which is a fantastic achievement.
“We are well aware that the economic climate is unlikely to improve during 2011 and this will continue to impact consumer confidence and spending. However, we remain confident that our business strategy combined with the continued hard work and commitment of staff, places the society in a strong position to achieve further success.”
Last year also saw the start of a two-year partnership with the society’s staff-elected charity — the Motor Neurone Disease Association which colleagues have raised over £200,000 in the first year of fundraising.