Divi boost as Co-op profits rise

EAST Anglia's biggest Co-op has unveiled recession-busting profits of nearly £10 million.The East of England Co-operative Society unveiled an 11.4 per cent rise - and will pay members more than £4 million in their “divi.

EAST Anglia's biggest Co-op has unveiled recession-busting profits of nearly £10 million.

The East of England Co-operative Society unveiled an 11.4 per cent rise - and will pay members more than £4 million in their “divi.”

Total sales for the year to January 26 reached £441 million, up 5.3pc, with the increase mainly coming from the food retail business.

The £9.72 million profits prompted the directors to recommend an increased total dividend of £4.28 million, which was approved at the annual meetings held this week in Norwich, Ipswich and Colchester.

Chief executive Richard Samson said: “This is an excellent result in what was undoubtedly a challenging year.

“I am extremely pleased that we will be distributing more than £4 million in dividend to our members across the region.

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“Once again we anticipate being one of the leading major UK consumer co-operatives in terms of the dividend level awarded to members, who are the ultimate owners of the society.

“The society is financially sound and we are all working hard to build an even stronger platform for future profitable growth.”

Mr Samson added: “The support of our customers and members is much appreciated and I would like to commend the hard work and commitment of my colleagues throughout the society, which has greatly contributed to the society's continuing success.”

During 2007 the society invested more than £18million in store improvements - paying for it from previous years' profits.

The development programme included the acquisition of a significant regional chain of convenience food stores. There were major extensions to the society's supermarket at the Rosehill Centre, Ipswich and the historic Dedham Food Store. Pharmacy branches in Ipswich have been refurbished.

However, the year also saw the society decide to withdrew from milk distribution and production, with the distribution business being sold as a going concern to Dairy Crest in February 2008, with more than 300 society employees transferring to the new employer.

In the coming months, improvements are planned to a number of trading premises, including a £1.2 million investment in Felixstowe town centre which should be completed by early summer.

With the introduction of new Dividend Cards in 2007, membership of the society has continued to grow and now totals in excess of 520,000.