Tamworth Co-op defies tough market to grow pre-tax profit to £941k

The society’s AGM saw a tribute to CEO Julian Coles and his deputy Andy Richardson, who are both due to retire

Tamworth Co-op has reported a pre-tax profit of £941,000 for the year to 17 January – up by £54,000 on the previous year’s £887,000, which covered an extra week.

Presented the results the society’s AGM on 24 April, CEO Julian Coles said the results were particularly pleasing in light of the exceptionally tough trading conditions of 2023. 

“The economic climate we have experienced has been extremely turbulent,” he added, “as household budgets have been stretched to the limits during the cost-of-living crisis.”

The total turnover of £29,062,000 was broadly in line with the previous year, but the overall trading surplus of £948,000 was down by £217,000. However, that was due to increased expenses, particularly the high cost of building repairs at one of the society’s investment properties.

“The total for that work came to more than £250,000 which has obviously impacted heavily on the latest figures,” added Coles.

He stressed that the £217,000 deficit was offset by a substantial turnaround in gains “below the trading surplus line” which are separate to the society’s main trading areas. 

The subtotal of these items was a positive £132,000 compared to minus £107,000 the year before. 

Coles noted that such comparisons are complicated by factors such as fluctuations in property valuations, but said he was encouraged by this year’s increase. “It’s a movement of £239,000. Net interest income was certainly higher too and there was an increase on the investment property portfolio, plus a gain on the disposal of some fixed assets. 

“In addition, our pension liability from the old final salary scheme has now been greatly reduced to £1.8m and our interest charges are considerably lower as result. That reflects the significant £1.4m payments that we have made during the year as part of the agreed recovery plan.”

Julian Coles

During the year, the food division carried out several improvements including a comprehensive refurbishment of the Whittington store and new refrigeration equipment at Polesworth.

The biggest development in the funeral division was the arrival of a new fleet of luxury Mercedes vehicles which had been delayed due to a global shortage of components.

A note of caution, however, was sounded on the society’s town centre post office operation with income only covering staff costs.

“Overall, the board is very pleased to be able to report on another successful year and would like to acknowledge the highly valued contributions of all employees,” added Coles. 

“The balance sheet remains stable at £19.3m and we have strong cash reserves of £3.7m. Whilst we do see a number of risks including some significant expenses on the horizon, we remain in good shape and are well placed to respond to future challenges.”

During the period under review Tamworth Co-op paid out £85,000 in dividends to its members. The society also featured on BBC Midlands Today after linking up with Heart of Tamworth charity to donate and help to deliver 450 emergency food parcels to hundreds of struggling families. 

A key focus of the year was the impending changes to the structure of the management executive with both Coles and his deputy Andy Richardson due to retire.

Dan Welsh, who has more than 30 years’ service with Tamworth Co-op, will take over as CEO on July 1. A new head of finance will be appointed shortly.

The financial review included a statement from the board paying tribute to the two most senior members of staff: “The directors, on behalf of all members of the Society, extend their sincere thanks and gratitude to both Mr Coles and Mr Richardson for their long service to the Society, which in each case has been exemplary.”