Lincolnshire Co-op reports ‘solid trading year’ despite cost increases

Trading surplus was £12.1m, down from £16.6m in 2022, with overall sales rising from £340m to £354m

Lincolnshire Co-operative has announced a “solid trading year” in its annual results for the year to 3 September, despite economic challenges including inflation. 

The retail co-op’s overall sales excluding VAT saw an increase from £340m to £354m; its pharmacy business saw growth of 10.8%, funerals rose by 6% and food grew by 3%.

Trading surplus was £12.1m, down from £16.6m in 2022. 

“Significant increases in costs” have impacted on surplus this trading year, the society said, including energy costs rising 67% to £6.4m and food distribution increasing by £1m. All colleagues received a pay rise of at least 6%, with frontline colleagues seeing an increase of at least 9%.

But the 27% decrease in surplus means the society will share a reduced dividend bonus with its members this year.

On 2 December, members will receive 70p per £1 of dividend they have collected during the year. This means the society will share £1.5m in dividend bonus on top of the £2.1m members have already collected.

The society signed up 22,247 new members in 2022/23, although overall membership decreased from 296,077 to 292,108. 

Related: Alison Hands on a life in retail – and her first six months as Lincolnshire CEO

Through its Community Champions scheme, the society raised £619,198 with the support of members, colleagues and customers, with the money going to 415 local charities and community groups.

Community outreach activity included 80 wellbeing walks supported by 254 volunteers, flu clinics which administered 2,476 vaccines, and a mobile health pod which delivered 475 free health MOTs to the public.

The society opened four new food stores during the year in Lincoln, Barrowby, Warsop and Bilsthorpe, as well as taking over a new pharmacy in Winterton. 

But the co-op has had to reduce hours of service in some of its post offices “due to the high cost levels of the operation”. The society says it will continue to review how to deliver the service, which currently costs the society £0.9m per year. 

In its property portfolio, Lincolnshire has expanded its digital business hub and opened a new building within the Lincoln Science and Innovation Park. The society has also partnered with Wykeland Group to acquire Lincoln’s Waterside Shopping Centre. 

The society’s chief executive Alison Hands said: “Like many other businesses, we are experiencing significant economic pressures including high energy and distribution costs. 

“Because we have strong foundations as a business and have had a solid trading year, despite these pressures, we have maintained a surplus which we can share with members and colleagues, and which enables us to work in our communities.

“We are focusing on how we can continue to grow our business for the long term and mitigate continually challenged cost bases, so we can improve our surplus to enable even further investment into our purpose and make life better in our communities.”