Profits on the up at the Co-op

PROFITS for the East of England Co-op rose to £5.5 million in the first six months of this financial year, up a quarter on the same period last year.The half-yearly trading profit of Britain's third largest independent consumer co-operative was up £1.1million.

PROFITS for the East of England Co-op rose to £5.5 million in the first six months of this financial year, up a quarter on the same period last year.

The half-yearly trading profit of Britain's third largest independent consumer co-operative was up £1.1 million, or 26 per cent.

Sales rose in the six months to August 11, following a bumper £4million dividend payout to Eastern co-op members earlier this year - a figure worth more than twice some other food retailers' loyalty card schemes.

The Co-op said it had made strong progress despite experiencing tough competition.

Trading profit before asset disposals rose and sales increased by £14 million to £217 million in the six months to August 11.

It followed February's purchase of the Norfolk-based Anglian Convenience Stores, which has 20 outlets.

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The society's annual turnover, in the period up to January, reached £400 million for the second consecutive year.

Richard Samson, chief executive of the East of England Co-op, said: “It is a very creditable result at this stage of the year.

“I am particularly pleased we achieved the increase in trading profit while under increased competitive pressure.

“Our food retail business is now one of the fastest growing major consumer co-operatives this year.”

Sales across the group rose by 3.5 per cent, mainly because of food sales increasing by three per cent.

Mr Samson added: “The newly acquired stores are producing higher sales following their Co-op re-branding and are integrated into our dividend scheme.”

During the six month period the Co-op also extended its supermarket in Rosehill, Ipswich and integrated the former East Anglian Federal Society into his business.

The East of England Co-op now has complete control of the regional distribution centre, which serves Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex.

More than 16,000 people have joined the society since January while 414,000 new Co-op dividend cards were issued to members since the scheme was introduced earlier this year.

Money was also spent on educational, recreational and social activities while the community dividend scheme supported charities across the region.

The East of England Co-op is the largest independent retailer in East Anglia and has more than 200 outlets, plus regional centres in Norwich, Ipswich and Colchester.

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