UK retailer The Midcounties Co-operative has booked an increase in first-half earnings but issued a warning on the "competitive" trading environment for the remainder of the year.

In the six months ended 27 July, operating profit was up 16% to GBP12m (US$19.4m), the retailer reported today (28 October).

The independent co-operative, which operates 240 food stores in the UK, grew sales by 36% to GBP593m in the period after strong performances from its childcare, energy and travel trading groups.

Its food business increased sales by 8% to GBP310m across its stores and in "an increasingly competitive retail grocery sector", it said. The growth was boosted by the contribution from six new stores acquired from the Harry Tuffins business in May last year.

"Looking ahead, we are encouraged by the recent positive indicators for the UK economy but expect that the markets in which we operate will continue to be highly competitive," said chief executive Ben Reid.

"Our focus will be to build on our excellent performance in the first half of the year and further strengthen the society in our core markets through investment, the hard work and dedication of our colleagues and maintaining the core values that drive our co-operative approach to business."

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THE MIDCOUNTIES CO-OPERATIVE POSTS RECORD SALES

The Midcounties Co-operative, the largest independent co-operative society in the UK which operates 240 food stores, grew sales by 36% to £593m in the six months to 27th July 2013 after strong performances from its Childcare, Energy and Travel trading groups.

Operating profit was up by 16% at £12m during the period and the Society is now generating over a billion pounds of gross sales annually following a sustained acquisition and growth strategy.

The Society's Food business increased sales by 8% to £310m across its 240 stores in an increasingly competitive retail grocery sector. The rise in sales was supported by the contribution from six new stores acquired from the Harry Tuffins business in May last year.

Co-operative Energy delivered strong growth with the number of domestic and business customers it serves trebling. It now provides gas and electricity to almost 150,000 customers nationally.

The Society's Travel and Childcare groups also delivered significant growth. Travel's sales jumped by 97% to £142m following store acquisitions and continued investment in the business, which now operates 60 travel shops and has a network of 80 home-based personal travel agents providing advice to customers. Childcare, which now operates 50 nurseries nationally, increased revenues by 20% and launched a number of new learning and development initiatives for its colleagues.

Other trading groups - which include Pharmacy, Funeral, Flexible Benefits and Post Office - also made positive contributions to the Society's performance.

As part of its commitment to corporate responsibility, The Midcounties Co-operative volunteering programme saw the Society's colleagues give back 24,300 hours to its local communities and over £150,000 was raised for its charity partner, the Teenage Cancer Trust. The Society was recognised in the Business in the Community Big Tick Awards for Building Stronger Communities and Environmental Leadership and won the Colleague Engagement Award at the Employer's Network for Equality & Inclusion Awards.

The Midcounties Co-operative was also named as one of the Sunday Times' Best Big Companies To Work For, for the third successive year.

Ben Reid, chief executive, said: "Our half year results demonstrate the strength of The Midcounties Co-operative as a diversified, customer-focused, member-owned society. We have continued to invest in areas that will deliver long-term value for our members, such as the development of our fast-growing energy business. This investment is driving momentum in terms of sales growth and bottom line contribution.

"Looking ahead, we are encouraged by the recent positive indicators for the UK economy but expect that the markets in which we operate will continue to be highly competitive. Our focus will be to build on our excellent performance in the first half of the year and further strengthen the society in our core markets through investment, the hard work and dedication of our colleagues and maintaining the core values that drive our co-operative approach to business."

ENDS

 

Original source: Midcounties Co-operative