East of England Co-op reports loss despite spike in food store takings
- Credit: East of England Co-op
The East of England Co-op has reported a pre-tax loss during the pandemic, despite surging trading profits in its food stores.
In its annual financial statement the company reported an overall loss of £1.7million, despite generating operating profits of £7.2million — up 60.8% on the year before.
Commenting on the figures Doug Field, joint chief-executive of the East of England Co-op, said: “In a year like no other we are delighted to have generated trading profits of £7.2m.
“This £2.7m increase on last year’s trading profits, wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication and resilience of our colleagues. This boost in trading profits is down to additional profits generated from our food stores.
“Our Co-op is a diverse mix of businesses, operating many smaller supermarkets and convenience stores that support villages and small towns across the region and have for many customers, been the only source of food. In contrast, several of our other businesses have had to close for significant periods since March 2020 in line with government guidance.
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“So, despite an increase in trading profits we ended the financial year with a loss before tax of £1.7m."
Mr Field said the Co-op had spent £1million on keeping its staff and customers safe during the pandemic adding that government support had helped to offset the costs.
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He continued: "Across the areas of our business which continued to trade as normal, we are pleased to have seen a 4.2% increase in sales.
“As the principle part of our business, we were delighted to see a £26.6m increase in food sales. Despite a lower number of visits to our food stores, those who visited spent more which helped increase sales and offset the negative Covid impacts from across our family of businesses.
“Despite a fall in rental income our investment property business maintained its profitability. We are also proud to have provided financial assistance to private residential and commercial tenants across our region who have struggled amid the crisis created by Covid-19.
“Unsurprisingly, given the impact of the pandemic, our Funerals, H.L. Perfitt, petrol filling stations, travel and events business all saw profits fall.
“With government restrictions significantly impacting both domestic and international travel, our travel sales were down nearly 90% and our petrol filling stations saw volumes down by over 20%.”
Looking ahead, he added: “Most importantly, we will continue to run our Co-op as it should be, improving the daily lives of our members, communities, customers and colleagues. Our Community Cares Fund is key to this commitment.
"We will continue to invest in our business to ensure we have a vibrant future. This includes leveraging the benefit of our investment in technology and looking for more food stores.
“Given the dedication of our colleagues and the adaptability they have shown in the last year, together with our strong financial foundation, we have the resources we need to keep us ahead of the curve.”