Sales rise helps Lincolnshire Co-op invest

Strong performances by food stores and travel branches have helped Lincolnshire Co-op record a 4.2 per cent sales growth in its half year results.

Total sales went up by £6.2m to £153m in the half year to March 4th 2017 compared to the same period last year.

Sales rose in food stores by seven per cent, helped by a busy investment programme which has seen outlets revamped, new food ranges introduced with more focus on chilled products and meal solutions, plus new services like Costa Coffee machines, instore bakeries and hot food-to-go.

World events and uncertainties about restrictions on holiday destinations meant travellers sought the expert, independent advice and financial peace of mind that Lincolnshire Co-op’s 13 travel branches provide. Sales went up by 14 per cent.

More people chose to entrust their funeral arrangements to the Society’s funeral homes, which saw income increase in the half year.

Pharmacies dispensed more than 2.7m prescriptions, an increase on last year. As well as numerous general consultations, the teams also provided vital health services to more than 11,500 people including NHS Medicine Reviews, NHS New Medicine Service appointments, flu vaccinations, health checks and stop smoking clinics.

Despite this strong performance, significant cuts to pharmacy income received for dispensing prescriptions have had an impact on Lincolnshire Co-op’s bottom line.

Group trading surplus for the half year was £8.5m, well ahead of budget though lower than the last half year’s £10m.

Another factor has been the planned significant investment in the Cornhill Quarter development in Lincoln city centre. Work started on the historic Corn Exchange building in September 2016 and the first tenants will open their doors later this year.

The Society continues to invest in its services for the benefit of members and customers. Over £10m has been spent on capital projects this half year including opening a new food store in Goxhill, in North Lincolnshire, and creating a community hub in Holbeach featuring a library, pharmacy, post office and a revamped food store.

Every time a member shops in a Lincolnshire Co-op outlet, a donation is made to a good cause through the Community Champions scheme. Staff fundraising and the carrier bag levy also goes into the pot.

During the half year, £103,000 was split between hundreds of smaller local charities and community groups. The Society also donated £290,000 worth of support to 14 charities tackling homelessness.

Lincolnshire Co-op has also stepped in to sustain health walks in Lincoln, East Lindsey and South Kesteven and has employed a dedicated Community and Health Walks Co-ordinator. The free walks boost people’s fitness and wellbeing.

13,750 new members joined Lincolnshire Co-op bringing the total number of dividend card holders to 273,000.

Chief Executive of Lincolnshire Co-op Ursula Lidbetter said: “We’re pleased with our performance this half year, with sales growth across the business enabling us to carry on investing in our services and the community.

“We do this through new outlets, like our community hub in Holbeach, or in wider schemes like the Cornhill Quarter in Lincoln, which will help revitalise that area of the city.

“We’ve known about and campaigned against the cuts to pharmacy income for some time and so were able to plan for their impact.

“However, we want to ensure that the vital service community pharmacy provides is better understood by Government. Our patients and customers know our pharmacies are a vital part of health provision and are about much more than prescriptions. We will continue to make strong representations on their behalf.” 

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