The Southern Co-operative enjoyed strong returns this year as consistent investment yielded strong profits.
The 52 weeks to 30 January 2016 saw a 4.6% increase in total income from the society of stores, reaching £366.8m. Group operative profit grew 4.4% to £4.8m, while retail sales grew by £14.5m to reach £346.3m.
“These results reflect the continued hard work and commitment of all our colleagues,” said Chief Executive Mark Smith. “Our business has grown significantly following investment over recent years and we continued to grow, with £17m invested back into the business last year.”
The fruits of this “investment” included a wave of store remodelling, allowing the chain to “more accurately match our product ranges to the needs of local customers.” Locally sourced products, deemed ‘Local Flavours’, are now stocked in 75% of Southern Co-operative stores, and saw a 10% increase in sales. The year’s final quarter also saw a 3.1% boost to general food sales.
“To support our growing scale we continued our investment in our people, primarily through our internal TSC Academy which allows colleagues, at all levels, to learn and develop,” Smith continued.
Reinvestment in the company produced direct benefits for customers, with the ‘Share of The Profits’ scheme rewarding member purchases at a rate of around 2p in the £1. In the south last year, customers earned back around £0.7m from contributions.
“In the coming year we will focus investment on further developing our convenience food offer, including additional work on ranging and the opening of 20 new stores, whilst we continued work to mature the most recent openings in our End of Life Services business,” Smith continued. “Our longstanding commitment to supporting our communities will benefit from the launch of our Love Your Neighbourhood initiative in 2016.”