Growth across the business has meant Lincolnshire Co-op has recorded a strong half year result, with sales and profit up.
During the first half of the Society’s financial year (Sept 2015 to Feb 2016) total sales rose to £146.8m from £143m in the same period of the previous year.
Food stores saw sales grow by 6.6 per cent with Lincolnshire Co-op’s own bakers Gadsby’s, based in Southwell, recording a 7.8 per cent increase.
More than 2.6m prescriptions were issued by pharmacies, up by 4.7 per cent. The branches also provide a wide range of health services including NHS Medicines Use Reviews and NHS New Medicine Service appointments, flu vaccinations, health checks and stop smoking clinics. More than 8,000 patients used these in the half year.
Lincolnshire Co-op has serious concerns about the Government’s proposals to cut community pharmacy provision.
Hundreds of pharmacy customers have signed a national petition calling for services to be safeguarded. Senior colleagues have also made representations on the issues to local MPs.
The Society’s funeral homes provide a trusted service to people in their time of need and income rose in the half year.
Post offices continue to be a key community service and in this period, Lincolnshire Co-op branches carried out more than 2.4m transactions.
Over 12,500 people enjoyed holidays or breaks booked by the Society’s travel branches, which saw sales grow.
Successful trading across Lincolnshire Co-op’s businesses during the half year saw group trading surplus go up to £10m from £9.6m last year. An employee profit share equivalent to 80 per cent of a week’s wage has been paid to staff.
New food stores opened in Collingham, Long Bennington, Wragby and Heapham Road in Gainsborough and a new pharmacy joined the business in Heckington.
A library was created inside the Spilsby Food Store, opening in January. It’s being supported by a team of volunteers. The Society also took over the running of a library in Holbeach alongside a group of volunteers from the community.
Lincolnshire Co-op welcomed its 250,000th member in 2015 – Ray Cooke of Old Leake, near Boston – and more than 13,400 people joined up during the half year.
A strong profit means the Society can share more with the community. This half year, £145,000 was given to 169 groups through the Community Champions scheme, including over £51,000 raised by the carrier bag levy.
Community Champions links individual members to good causes through their dividend cards. When a member shops in a Lincolnshire Co-op service, a donation goes to that community group or organisation.
The Society’s 2,860 employees collect money for different charity partners. Almost £113,000 was donated to the Teenage Cancer Trust in January 2016 and staff are now fundraising for local branches of the MS Society.
Large-scale projects led by Lincolnshire Co-op made progress in the half year. Planning permission was granted for the first phase of the Cornhill Quarter project – which will see part of Lincoln city centre transformed – and major work is set to begin on site this summer.
Construction has begun on the Boole Technology Centre, which will house innovative businesses. It’s part of the Lincoln Science and Innovation Park off Beevor Street in Lincoln, which the Society co-founded with the University of Lincoln.
Chief Executive Ursula Lidbetter said: “Our team works hard to make Lincolnshire Co-op a successful business – providing excellent service, value for money and great offers in outlets conveniently located where our members and customers live and work.
“Our colleagues’ efforts enable us to record a strong result, which in turn means we can pay our members dividend, share our profits with the community and invest in our services, as well as wider schemes to benefit the local area.
“We’re looking forward to keeping up the good work and we hope to have more positive news to share at the end of our financial year.”