Sales at Lincolnshire Co-op increased by just over 1% in the half-year to March 2014, with growth in food, travel and pharmacy.
The society, which covers Lincolnshire and surrounding counties, saw sales in its 78 food stores increase by 2.2%. Figures were helped by the festive trading performance, plus the impact of paying members a £1.8m dividend bonus in November.
Demand for bread and cakes made by Lincolnshire Co-op’s own bakers Gadsby’s, based in Southwell, rose by 8% in food stores. Sales of local meat, produced by the society’s own butchery in Lincoln, went up by 7%, and sales of the Love Local range, featuring different products from around the trading area, rose by 11%.
Travel branches increased sales by 27%, which was due to three new outlets opening that took the total number to 13 branches.
Income in the society’s 48 pharmacies increased by 3.2%. Branches dispensed around 2.5m prescriptions and carried out over 4,100 medicine use reviews, which check customers are taking their medication correctly.
The funeral division, which includes the new South Lincolnshire Crematorium, saw its income rise by 10.6%.
With its community Post Office network of 40 branches, the society said that it continues to subsidise the service “despite receiving shrinking support from the government”.
It property team oversaw developments including Joseph Banks Laboratories, the first phase of the Lincoln Science and Innovation Park project. The lab building will house the University of Lincoln’s School of Pharmacy, School of Life Sciences and School of Chemistry.
Total sales during half year were £142.6m, a rise of 1.3% compared to the same period in the last financial year. Group trading surplus (after member benefits and pension contributions) was £8.9m, up from £8.5m in the same period of the last trading year.
More than 8,200 people signed up to become Lincolnshire Co-op members and already this half of the financial year, £2m has been paid out to members in dividend and member benefits.
Chief executive Ursula Lidbetter said: “We’re pleased to be able to report a positive trading result in continuing difficult trading conditions. It’s down to the hard work and dedication of our 2,700 staff and the support of our 230,000 members. My thanks go to all of them.
“We’re all committed to the success of our co-op because success means we can pay dividend to our members, invest in the services they need and support good causes making a difference in their communities.”
Last March, the co-operative launched the Community Champions initiative, which sees every dividend card holder linked to a good cause in their area. Every time a member shops in a store, a donation goes to that good cause. Members can also choose to support one champion all year round. Since the launch, more than £192,000 has been shared by more than 300 different groups.