Chelmsford Star Co-operative has published its interim report for the first 28 weeks of the year, which shows an increase in turnover and sales from the same period last year. The work of the society has also been recognised by a number of recent awards.
The interim report shows Chelmsford Star has witnessed a growth of 2.2% in income (or £255,156) compared with the first 28 weeks of last year. While this rate of growth is less than the society’s business plan envisaged, the board says it is confident figures will improve during the second half of the year.
At the society’s interim meeting on 6 October, chief executive Barry Wood gave members an insight into the society’s performance. President of the society, Pauline Dodd, told members the first 28 weeks of the year had been “challenging”. However, the society’s gross takings or growth in turnover, which accounts for the full value of all payments that the society has received for its retail sales, have grown by 2.9%, compared to the same period last year.
The society’s core food turnover also increased by 1.3%, compared to the same period last year. Gross takings for the co-operative’s department stores increased by 4.7%, while for its travel division gross takings increased by 29.6%, The funeral business also achieved an increase of 7.4% in gross takings. According to Mr Wood, trading profit for the society is in line with the expectations of the business plan. However, the loss of the Co-operative Group’s dividend and the increased cost base resulting from the longer term investment in the new till system and greater investment in training resources have affected the society.
In the context of a challenging trading environment, profit decreased by £118,236 for the society’s food business, but increased by 45.3% for its travel business and 7.5% for its funeral business. The society’s department store business has reduced its trading losses to 3.2% compared to 4.5% last year.
The report stated that the society continued to engage with people in the local area, regularly attending community events. It has also continued to work with local charities, last year raising a total of £36,356 for its charity of the year, Essex Dementia Care. This year’s charity is the J’s Hospice.
Chelmsford Star has also received a number of accolades recently. At the Essex Life Food and Drink Awards 2014, the society took home the Pride of Essex award and the Essex Life Food and Drink Hero award for actively promoting local produce. As well as stocking produce from local suppliers, Chelmsford Star also helps them develop.
Food trading manager, Stewart Linehan, said: “Finding local food is a real passion of ours and we now support nearly 40 local producers. “We are very proud of what our county has to offer and enjoy sharing it with our customers under our The Only Way is Local support your Essex producer branding.”
This year the society also celebrated the 15th anniversary of its award-winning community card scheme. To mark the event, Chelmsford Star hosted a free seminar evening attended by the Mayor of Chelmsford, where attendees received fundraising tips and advice on how make the most of social media and write successful press releases.
At the end of September, Chelmsford Star Co-operative marked the 10th anniversary of opening its Inglastone funeral branch. To celebrate the anniversary, clients and staff from the society’s funeral team went on a memorial walk to the church of St Mary’s in Fryening, and planted a tree to mark the occasion.