The Midcounties Co-operative has defied the economic gloom, announcing a 35 per cent increase in trading profit to a record £16.2 million.
The community retailer’s year end results for 2008/09 were achieved despite tough conditions and were driven to a large extent by a 7.2 per cent increase in food sales.
Chief executive Ben Reid hailed the success of the group, which is based in Walsall and Oxfordshire and covers a wide stretch of the Midlands.
He said the success of Midcounties showed the co-operative model of doing business worked while other systems that ‘rewarded personal greed’ were now seen as flawed.
“More and more consumers are recognising the underlying values of the Co-operative movement,” he said. “We aspire to trade profitably and ethically, to support our local communities and overseas Fairtrade suppliers and return a share of our profits to our members.
“This is very attractive to many people who have experienced first-hand what damage a system can do that rewards personal greed at the expense of the common good.”
The latest yearly figures show gross sales up 5.1 per cent to £748 million. The group also recruited more than 50,000 new members in the year – more than twice as many as the year before. A retail co-operative is different from other retailers because it is owned by its customers who control and benefit from it.
Midcounties, which trades in food retail, travel, funeral, pharmacy, childcare and motors, is the second largest independent co-operative society in the UK.
Ben Reid said its solid trading results in tough times were due to the Co-operative approach, a focus on delivering a high quality retail environment that supported the needs of local communities and to the hard work and commitment shown by colleagues across its businesses.
“No one is in any doubt that the next year is going to present us all with real challenges,” he said. “The Midcounties Co-operative is in good shape to be able to face these challenges head on.”
During the year Midcounties returned more than £158,000 of its profits to community projects and colleagues gave over 22,300 volunteering hours to provide practical help in their community.
It also put a greater emphasis on its green agenda in 2008 with a series of initiatives, including the appointment of a new energy and environment officer.