Combined Central England Co-op posts growth
Central England Co-operative has posted a significant increase in first-half sales in spite of turbulent market conditions partly driven by its long-term growth strategy.
The Lichfield-headquartered group was formed by the merger of Midlands Co-op and Anglia Regional Co-op in December 2013. Chief executive Martyn Cheatle said the combination continued to lay the foundations of a "very successful future".
Nine new food stores opened in the six-month period ended 9 August 2014, plus three funeral homes. Central England Co-op said it also had a strong pipeline of new site developments.
Gross sales at the society, excluding VAT, climbed by 24 per cent to £480.2m in the half, with profit before interest and tax nudging up by £500,000 to £13.6m.
Retail food sales jumped by more than 27 per cent from a year earlier to £391.6m. The rise was the result of new store openings, the merger and "robust" sales in the convenience and fuel forecourt sectors. It was achieved in spite of challenging conditions in the society's larger stores.
The launch of a new concept supermarket format at Castle Donington and Bakewell had been well received, the group said, leading to its introduction at Wildwood in Staffordshire and the roll-out of new category designs in Wells-next-the-Sea and Oadby in Leicester.
Chief executive Martyn Cheatle said: "In spite of the competitive trading environment which has had an impact on many retailers, our society's increased size and scale, following the Anglia merger, clear strategy and sound financial position continue to lay the foundations of a very successful future.
"I am confident that the society is in a really strong position to continue further business development and growth."
The society is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK. It employs more than 9,000 staff and has projected gross sales of £900m in 2014.
Central England Co-op has more than 400 trading outlets across 16 counties in Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.