'Solid' performance from enlarged Co-op

The East of England Co-operative Society, formed last October with the merger of the Ipswich & Norwich and Colchester & East Essex co-ops, yesterday announced a solid first set of results despite refocusing its business activities and an increasingly competitive marketplace.

The East of England Co-operative Society, formed last October with the merger of the Ipswich & Norwich and Colchester & East Essex Co-ops, yesterday announced a solid first set of results despite refocusing its business activities and an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Due to the merger and a change in the financial year end, the results' period to the end of January 2006 includes 60 weeks of trading as the former Ipswich & Norwich Co-op and 13 weeks of trading as the new East of England Co-op.

In this period, trading profit from on-going business was £12 million on sales of £414 million, placing the new Society as the fifth largest consumer co-operative in the UK.

Unveiling the results at its first annual members' meetings held in Ipswich, Norwich and Colchester, the East of England Co-op said it was now firmly established as the leading operator of food stores in the region, with 100 convenience stores, 16 larger supermarkets and a workforce of more than 5,000 across the region.


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It advised members of acquisitions, new buildings and refurbishments made during the review period, including the opening of six new stores across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. The Society's funeral business also expanded with two new funeral business acquired and two new regional offices established in Ipswich and Colchester.

The Society is withdrawing from car retailing, however, following a strategic review which resulted in the break-up of the Sterling Motor Group.

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Commenting on the results, chief executive Chris Blanchett, said:

“In a year which brought significant reorganisation and a realignment of the financial year end, these are very credible results.

“All retailers are facing a difficult trading environment, but the merger has placed us in a stronger position and we have solid foundations for future growth and expansion.

“Our development programme is continuing, with work well underway on the £10 million redevelopment of the Peartree Road site in Colchester, and the extension of the Rosehill supermarket in Ipswich. A new £1.8 million food store will be opening on 24 May at Ravenswood in Ipswich.

“This follows hard upon an exciting year which saw the opening of six brand new food stores and over 20 acquisitions or refurbishments.”

Co-op members in the region will share a Dividend payout of £2.35 million as their share of the Society's profits for the period under review.

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