Central England results hold society steady

The annual report says the society’s results for 2016/17 are “broadly in line with the prior year”

Central England’s 2017 finances are “broadly in line with the prior year” according to the society’s annual results for the 53 weeks ended 28 January 2017.

Sales were down slightly to £843.5m (2016: £844.7m), turnover for the year was £805.8m (2016: £806.8m) and trading profit was £20m (2016: £20.8m). Overall the society made a loss for the financial period of £3.9m (2016: £3.1m profit).

“Increased sales in our convenience stores and a good performance in our funeral business were offset by the combined impacts of food price deflation and continued pressure in our large stores and supermarkets,” said Martyn Cheatle, chief executive.

“Our operating profit of £11.3m was lower than the prior year (2016: £19.8m), with the prior year benefiting from an increase in the investment property valuation compared to a small decrease in the current year.”

Central England opened nine new food stores in 2016/17, bringing the total to over 260 stores ranging from small convenience and petrol forecourts to large supermarket formats. Gross sales topped £710m (2016: 698.9m), despite the sector remaining under pressure from competition, increased wage costs and an impact from Brexit which has “yet to be fully experienced”.

Gross sales in Funeral Care for the year maintained steady at £41.1m

Gross sales in Funeral Care for the year maintained steady at £41.1m (2016: £38.2m), while travel and rental income decreased slightly.

“We have achieved a robust and encouraging performance in 2016 with highly competitive market conditions, food price deflation and on-going structural changes in the UK grocery sector representing a significant challenge to the society’s core food store business,” said Maria Lee, president of Central England.

“The society’s resilient financial performance was delivered whilst maintaining our ambitious growth programme and continuing to invest in the communities in which we trade.”

Its commitment to support local communities has included the installation of over 150 defibrillators in a number of food stores and funeral homes, which was funded by the 5p carrier bag levy. It has also extended its roll-out of food bank collection points to over 180 stores and at the start of 2016, launched the ‘Bloom’ campaign as part of the drive to promote healthier lifestyles and improve mental health awareness.

Over £1.3m was raised for the society’s colleague-elected corporate charity, Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children.

Central England achieved an improvement in its Corporate Responsibility (CR) index score to 4½ stars, up from 2½ stars, and an independently produced report to measure its Social Return on Investment demonstrated that every £1 invested by the society generates a positive community benefit of £20.50.

At Co-operative Congress in June 2016, Central England received the award for ‘Leading Co-operative of the Year’.