Channel Islands Co-op offers 2% divi despite £1.8m loss

The proposal follows a member backlash after the society suggested no divi would be offered after a tough year’s trading

Channel Islands (CI) Co-op has released its annual results for the 53 weeks to 14 January, posting a net loss of £1.8m after a year of “global events and economic stresses”.

But chair Jon Bond said the co-op retained a “solid financial position, with a strong balance sheet and members’ funds totalling £150.6m” and said the society is committed to modernising and expanding its principal operating activities. 

The society provoked an outcry among members earlier this year after warning of the possibility of no dividend or a reduced dividend, with some members rushing to withdraw their capital.

Now, the board is proposing a 2% dividend, subject to approval at the AGM in May.

“In proposing a 2% dividend,” said Bond, “we have taken the time to thoroughly review what is in the best interests of our member owners and our ability to sustainably pay a dividend despite the impact of world events on our profits in the last year.”

The society recorded a turnover of £208.5m, up 8.4% on the previous year, with an extra week’s trading. The net loss follows payments for dividend, member interest, and revaluation of investment properties. 

Setbacks included the closure of four loss-making in-store post offices after falling demand.

“Entering 2023, we hoped for stability after enduring significant challenges and changes in the world around us,” said CEO Mark Cox. “However, like many businesses, CI Coop faced substantial hurdles due to unprecedented levels of inflation, interest rate hikes and escalating cost of living pressures placing considerable pressure on our operations.

“We recognise that our announcement earlier in the year regarding dividend payments caused some concern however I am delighted that after a period of review we have been able to ensure we can make a payment to our member owners, I would like to record my thanks to all our member owners and colleagues for their understanding, loyalty, and continued commitment to our CI Coop.”

Mark Cox emphasised the society’s dedication to community welfare, rooted in co-operative principles. “Despite the challenges we faced, there’s ample reason for pride, particularly in our commitment to making a real difference to the communities we serve.” 

In 2023, CI Coop demonstrated its dedication to community support, donating £148,000 to local charitable causes and community groups. Highlights include providing 525 hours of colleague volunteering hours to support local charitable groups, distributing 150,000 items of surplus food waste through the community sharing app Olio, providing meals for schoolchildren, selling £2.5m of Fairtrade products, and spending £8.3m with local suppliers, which provides economic benefit to the islands. 

Cox said he was confident in the co-operative’s ability to overcome challenges through collaboration and innovation. Investments have seen the co-op acquire seven pharmacies from Lloyds, open new stores, expand product ranges, and implement new point-of-sale technology.

The society promised further investment in value for members, including the launch of “an innovative member rewards scheme” in the coming months. 

“As the largest member-owned and led organisation in the Channel Islands, employing over 1,100 people, CI Coop remains committed to creating value for its members, customers, suppliers, and communities,” the society added.