Midcounties Co-operative posts record sales, powered by energy business

Reid: strong financial performance

Reid: strong financial performance

Community retailer The Midcounties Co-operative has announced record annual gross sales of £943m in its annual results for 2012/13, 20% higher than the previous year.

The results show the biggest increase was from its Co-operative Energy business, where sales surged ahead from £7m to £46m.

The Society-wide operating profit before significant items was £19m, £1.3m above the previous 12 months.

Chief executive Ben Reid, who presented the results to members at Midcounties’ Annual General Meeting (11 May 2013), said: “The Society has had a very exciting year as a result of significant investment, particularly in Childcare, Travel and Food and the very rapid growth of our Energy business.”

He also referred to the ‘huge milestone’ the business had reached since the year end, achieving one billion pounds annual turnover in April.

“The one billion represents a doubling of our turnover in just eight years. That’s a spectacular endorsement of the co-operative way, which is doing business with a social conscience,” he said.

Returning to the annual results, Reid said market positions had been retained in Midcounties’ other trading groups – Pharmacy, Funeral, Post Offices and Flexible Benefits – and noted there had been significant investment in central services to ensure they can effectively serve the growing business.

“The results demonstrate a strong financial performance which has justified this investment and gives us a portfolio of businesses well placed to meet the opportunities and challenges ahead,” he said.

Reid said success in the domestic energy supply market was fuelled by an increase in sign-ups from 19,000 to 128,000 households, while sales in Travel grew by 65% to £172m and sales in Childcare rose by 45% to £20m, both driven by acquisitions and subsequent growth.

The Food business continued to perform well in a very challenging and competitive trading environment, delivering a like-for-like sales increase of 1% and total sales of £597m – a ‘very strong’ 8% increase on the previous year, said Reid.

This had been achieved through continued focus on customer delivery along with the purchase of the Harry Tuffins supermarket chain and six new store openings.

Midcounties president Patrick Gray said: “We were all delighted in October when Midcounties was named Co-operative of the Year 2012, as the culmination, for us, of the UN International Year of Co-operatives.

“It is also a matter of great pride that, for the third year running, our Society gained a place in the prestigious Sunday Times 25 Best Big Companies to Work For, especially as this year we have moved 11 steps up the table to 13th place.

“This success is all the more important to us as the Sunday Times competition is not concerned with commercial factors but with considerations such as employee satisfaction, internal communications, and interactions with society at large, all of them matters which are at the centre of our core objectives as a co-operative.”

Other highlights, for the year to 29 January 2013, include:

  • providing £580,000 worth of support to community projects
  • colleagues giving over 40,000 hours of volunteer time
  • raising more than £330,000 for the Society’s charity partner Women’s Aid
  • a 2.3% reduction in energy use
  • the recycling rate increased to 69% of total waste output