Central England Co-op emphasises how its purpose-led business model helps members and communities in annual results

Central England Co-op have spoken about its continued investment for the good of its members and communities following the announcement of the Society’s annual results.

The Retail Society, which operates over 400 food, funeral and floral sites across 19 counties, has outlined solid full year results to 22 January 2022 and the major benefits for local communities this brings in line with their Purpose of ‘Creating a sustainable Society for all’.

Financial highlights include:

  • Gross sales of £875.0 million, up from £869.0m in 2020/2021
  • Operating profit of £23.2 million, up £2.1m compared to 2020/2021
  • Capital expenditure of £21.5 million three new food stores, one relocation and 41 regenerations take place
  • Net assets of £275.4m, up £67.3m on the prior year 
  • Members, colleagues and communities benefited from the success of the Society’s performance by sharing in a £3.0m dividend pay-out 

Community highlights include:

  • 136 good causes and charities shared £170,000 from its Community Dividend Fund
  • Carbon footprint reduced by 78.54% as part of ongoing efforts to minimise impact on the environment
  • The hard work and support of colleagues, customers and members helped the retailer be named Leading Co-op of the Year by Co-operatives UK for the third time
  • The Society was awarded three Carbon Trust Standards for reducing carbon emissions, waste and water use for a fourth time in a row
  • Ongoing partnerships with FareShare Midlands and over 65 local food banks meant hundreds of thousands of meals for children who might otherwise go without and thousands of vital emergency food parcels for families
  • Pledging over £350,000 with charity Groundwork as part of an ambitious project to create sustainable spaces on Co-op land for the local community
  • Continued link-up with Dementia UK raising over £1.7 million

Debbie Robinson, Central England Co-op chief executive, said: “It’s been another year of significant change. Our Purpose of creating a sustainable Society for all, has been invaluable in guiding our decisions through this challenging period. During the first half of 2021, we saw lockdown conditions continue albeit with a cautious relaxing of restrictions at various points. Our goods and services remained in high demand.

In the second half of the year, as restrictions were eased and more businesses started to reopen, the demand for our goods and services declined. Brexit combined with the pandemic resulted in significant challenges with product availability, which impacted heavily upon sales in our food business. Whilst the situation is improving and mitigations have been put in place, we expect the trading environment to continue to be challenging into the new financial year.

“Our overall performance across the past 12 months has been solid. Gross sales from continuing operations (excluding VAT) grew by 0.7% year on year to £875.0m (2020/2021: £869.0m) and were up 3.7% on a two-year basis. Trading profit was £19.9m, up 13.2% on a two-year basis but down 29.0% year on year reflecting heightened trading and the impact of the pandemic last year. Operating profit of £23.2m was up 9.9% year on year (2020/2021: £21.1m).

“Looking ahead there are significant challenges facing the convenience sector including new rules governing the way we market items to customers that are high in fat, sugar and salt from October 2022 as part of the government’s strategy to tackle obesity. This is a real opportunity to encourage and support customers to eat better. Inflation has reached a 30-year high, which will impact on our cost base and households will face considerable increases in the cost of living. Therefore we expect to see a significant threat to both household spending and business profitability.

“We have great people throughout our Society and I would like to thank each and every colleague for their commitment and hard work. Together with our Members and Board, we will meet the challenges ahead, we will continue to invest in our biggest asset, our people, in the delivery of our Purpose of creating a sustainable Society for all.”

Jane Avery, society president, said: “The Board and Executive, guided by our Society Purpose and Co-operative Values and Principles, continued with our mission to strengthen our Society, aware that good times inevitably follow bad times, and we need to prepare for any eventuality. Despite the uncertain future we are facing due to events on the world stage, I remain optimistic that our values will endure and our Society remain strong and successful.”