Central England Co-op expects challenging trading conditions to continue

Central England Co-op which operates over 400 food, funeral and floral sites across 19 counties has seen gross sales of £875m, up from £869m reported in its annual results.

More than 8,000 colleagues serve customers across the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.

The Lichfield-based retail society says its operating profit increase by £2.1m to £23.2m from the previous year and it saw a capital expenditure of £21.5m with three new food stores, one relocation and 41 regenerations take place.

As well as its financial success, Central England Co-op have spoken about its investment for the good of its members and communities.

Its carbon footprint was reduced by 78.54% as part of ongoing efforts to minimise impact on the environment and it was awarded three Carbon Trust Standards for reducing carbon emissions, waste and water use for a fourth time in a row.

As part of its agenda of ‘Creating a sustainable Society for all’ it has pledged more than over £350,000 with charity Groundwork as part of a project to create sustainable spaces on Co-op land for the local community.

In addition, the retail society has continued its partnership with FareShare Midlands and over 65 local food banks and shared shared £170,000 from its Community Dividend Fund to 136 causes and charities.

Debbie Robinson, Central England Co-op Chief Executive, said: “During the first half of 2021, we saw lockdown conditions continue albeit with a cautious relaxing of restrictions at various points. Our goods and services remained in high demand.

“In the second half of the year, as restrictions were eased and more businesses started to reopen, the demand for our goods and services declined. Brexit combined with the pandemic resulted in significant challenges with product availability, which impacted heavily upon sales in our food business. Whilst the situation is improving and mitigations have been put in place, we expect the trading environment to continue to be challenging into the new financial year.

“Looking ahead there are significant challenges facing the convenience sector including new rules governing the way we market items to customers that are high in fat, sugar and salt from October 2022 as part of the government’s strategy to tackle obesity. This is a real opportunity to encourage and support customers to eat better.”