East of England Co-op sees drop in profits following spate of ram raids and robberies
The East of England Co-op has seen its profits dented by extra spending on security following a series of cashpoint ram raids.
The additional costs meant that underlying trading profit at the regional retailer fell from £4.4m to £4.2m for the year to January 28, though turnover rose by £5.9m to £353.6m overall.
The group, which has food, funeral and property businesses, saw profit before tax and distributions rise from £6.1m to £6.6m, but president Clive Mann said the figures would have been higher but for investment in additional security measures.
He said: “Like many other retailers, we have been the victim of ATM raids and robberies this year and as a result significantly increased our investment in protection for our colleagues, which has contributed to a decrease in profits.
“While this decision has hurt our results, we will never hesitate to do what is right by our hard-working colleagues.”
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A number of the Co-op’s 230-plus stores have been targeted by offenders using heavy vehicles, such as forklifts, to rip out cash machines.
These include raids in Earls Colne, Sible Hedingham and Long Melford in 2017 and Debenham and Dedham this year.
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The company’s results show its food business recorded a 17% increase in profits as sales rose by 2.3% when compared like-for-like with last year’s 53-week financial year.
It also opened larger food stores in Acle and Harleston and added 11 new branches of its funeral business, and now employs more than 4,300 people across Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire.
Despite acknowledging the “damage and disruption” of the ram raids, joint chief executive Doug Field said the company was well positioned for the year ahead.
“Over the coming year we will continue to focus on the three cornerstones of our business; food, funeral and property, while growing and reshaping our Co-op to ensure long term success.
“We will continue our successful food strategy, looking for new stores and continuing our refurbishment programme of existing stores. Our funeral services have expanded rapidly and we will look to establish new locations over the coming year, while investment in our property estate will continue, with new developments planned for 2018.”
He highlighted the Co-op Guide to Dating initiative, which gained national attention last year for its efforts to save food waste from going to landfill.
The East of England Co-op last week launched Secure Response, its security arm, to share its technology and knowledge with other local businesses.