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East Anglia: Dividend windfall for East of England Co-op members

PUBLISHED: 16:58 19 May 2014 | UPDATED: 12:24 20 May 2014

Casting votes at the AGM

Casting votes at the AGM

Archant

More than 170,000 members of the East of England Co-operative can look forward to a share of a £3.5million dividend payment this June.

Newly-elected East of England Co-op board member Belinda Bulsing with society president John PendleAGM Newly-elected East of England Co-op board member Belinda Bulsing with society president John PendleAGM

The dividend was approved at the society’s annual general meeting, held at Wherstead Park, Ipswich on Saturday, following a recommendation from the independent retailer’s board.

President John Pendle chaired the meeting and reported on the society’s performance during 2013-14. Members heard that the business, which has 200 trading outlets across the region, achieved a 17% rise in pre-tax profit, climbing from £2.2m to £2.8m.

The society, a member of the EADT/EDP Top100 listing of the 100 largest businesses in Suffolk and Norfolk, saw turnover rise by 2% from £335m to £342m, despite tough trading conditions.

Doug Field, executive officer – finance and technology for the East of England Co-op, said: “We believe that being local and independent is a key strength and we are delighted to once again be able to give something back to our loyal members in the form of a dividend.

Questions from the floor at the East of England Co-op AGM Questions from the floor at the East of England Co-op AGM

“A strong balance sheet, no borrowing, consumer confidence, a focus on customer service, and continued promotion of our independence are all factors that put us in a strong position to continue to build our society.”

The retailer’s Sourced Locally range, petrol forecourts, funeral, travel and the distribution centre all saw an increase in business. The year was also good for the investment property portfolio which saw an increase in turnover and profits as well as a £6m investment in new properties.

Following the AGM, members joined visitors in the grounds of Wherstead Park to enjoy a family fun event with live music from the Harwich Brass Band, a petting farm and activities for children. There was also an array of food and drink from suppliers in the national award winning Sourced Locally programme. Now working with over 130 local suppliers from across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, Sourced Locally sales grew last year by 30% generating sales over £13m – making it a key element of the East of England Co-op’s business.

The AGM also included a members’ vote for the election of board directors. This year saw 12 candidates standing for four available places on the board. Belinda Bulsing was elected as a new board member with Graham Bober, Clive Mann and Beverley Perkins all re-elected.

Members who are eligible for a dividend will receive their payment in the post by June.

The East of England Co-op’s Annual Report 2014 is available online at eastofengland.coop

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