Lincolnshire Co-op has announced record sales of £312 million – up by more than £10 million on the previous year.
In the 2016/17 financial year, Lincolnshire Co-op saw total sales rise by 3.5%. In a competitive retail environment, sales in food stores went up by 6.8% and travel branches recorded growth of 10.4%.
Group trading surplus remained healthy at £16 million, though it fell from the £20 million recorded in the previous year due to cuts to NHS pharmacy income and rising pension costs.
The society also made a major investment in a brand-new dividend card, app and systems which will improve services for members.
More than 280,000 members own Lincolnshire Co-op and receive a share of the profits in dividend. If the society has performed well, they also get a dividend bonus each year.
This year’s positive trading result means members who go to the society’s annual meetings in November will be asked to approve a dividend bonus of 85p per £1 of dividend collected during the year.
If given the go-ahead, members will share £1.9 million in bonus on top of the £2.2 million paid out during the year – a total of £4.1 million.
The introduction of more chilled food and food-to-go products, plus a busy refurbishment programme, helped food stores record robust growth.
Sales of Lincolnshire Co-op’s own Love Local range went up by 22%.
This year, Lincolnshire Co-op made the decision to shut its two food distribution centres in Lincoln and fully join the national co-operative distribution network.
Holidaymaker numbers grew by 4% at Lincolnshire Co-op’s 13 travel branches.
Income from the society’s funeral homes, florist and crematorium rose by 8%.
More than 16,400 medicine reviews and consultations were completed at Lincolnshire Co-op pharmacies, over 2,600 health checks were carried out and 5.5 million prescriptions were dispensed.
Over £12 million was spent with firms from the area this year. Schemes have included a new food store in Goxhill, funeral homes in Coningsby and Market Rasen, the Cornhill Quarter project in Lincoln city centre, which saw the first tenants open their doors in October, and investment in the Lincoln Science and Innovation Park.
£1.5 million was invested in member and community support including rolling out the new dividend card and dividend card app, sponsorships of local events and teams, plus supporting three volunteer-run libraries in Waddington, Spilsby and Holbeach.
This year, over £663,000 was given away including £290,000 of support to homeless charities, £144,000 to hospices, £126,000 to green spaces and £103,000 to local good causes through the Community Champions scheme.
Chief Executive Lincolnshire Co-op Ursula Lidbetter said: “There is no doubt that trading conditions are tough out there in many areas of our business. We run lots of different valued services and it means we face a variety of challenges; from the highly competitive food retail environment to dealing with substantial cuts to NHS pharmacy income.
“To make sure we remain sustainable, we have to meet and adapt to these challenges and sometimes make difficult decisions, such as the closure of our distribution centres this year.
“It also takes hard work, ideas and energy. It’s testament to our dedicated colleagues and the support of our members that together, we’ve achieved another strong trading result.
“Lincolnshire Co-op aims to make life better in our communities. This year we’ve used our success to undertake projects which we can all be proud of, such as sustaining a network of health walks in our area, developing the Cornhill Quarter project in Lincoln city centre and giving hundreds of local groups support through our Community Champions scheme.”
The Annual Members’ Meetings take place:
- Tuesday, November 14 – The Weston Rooms, Gainsborough
- Wednesday, November 15 – Stanhope Hall, Horncastle
- Thursday, November 16 – Holbeach Community Centre
- Monday, November 20 – Everyday Champions Centre, Newark
- Tuesday, November 21 – Grimsby Town Hall
- Wednesday, November 22 – The Epic Centre, Lincolnshire Showground