Co-op profits hit four-year high

THE East of England Co-operative Society has defied the pressures on consumer spending to deliver its biggest profit for four years.

Turnover on continuing operations edged ahead by 1% to �352.5million during the year to January 22, despite tough trading conditions for retailers, and profit before tax came in at �8.8m – the highest figure achieved by the society since 2007.

The underlying trading profit of �11.7m was down on last year’s record level of �15.1m, but membership funds grew by �18.5m to �242.8m and there will be a dividend pool of �3.1m, representing 2% of qualifying purchases.

The society said the increase in turnover was driven by strong performances in its distribution centre and funeral businesses.

Supermarket and food store sales were down 0.4% at �266.9m in total and by 0.8% on a like-for-like basis, which the society said reflected the “challenging” economic environment and increased competition from the major multiples.