A community retailer has announced record annual gross sales of almost £1 billion, an increase of 20 per cent on the previous year.
The Midcounties Co-operative announced the £943 million gross sales at its recent Annual General Meeting, with the biggest increase coming from its Co-operative Energy business, where sales surged ahead from £7 million to £46 million.
The Society-wide operating profit before significant items was £19 million, £1.3 million above the previous 12 months.
Chief executive Ben Reid, who presented the 2012/13 results to members at Midcounties’ AGM on May 11, 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.”
Mr Reid also referred to the ‘huge milestone’ the business had reached since the year end, achieving £1 billion 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, Mr Reid said market positions had been retained in Midcounties’ other trading groups – pharmacy, funeral, post offices and flexible benefits – and noted that there had been significant investment in central services to ensure they can effectively serve the growing business.
He added: “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.”
Speaking at the National Motorcycle Museum near Solihull, Mr 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 per cent to £172 million and sales in childcare rose by 45 per cent to £20 million, both driven by acquisitions and subsequent growth.
The food business continued to perform well in a challenging and competitive trading environment, delivering a like-for-like sales increase of one per cent and total sales of £597 million – a ‘very strong’ eight per cent increase on the previous year, said Mr 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.”