Southern Co-op has announced a 9% growth in annual income to over £430 million reflecting investment in new stores and funeral homes and a 1.6% growth in like for like food sales. Trading across 11 counties in the south of England, Southern Co-op opened 16 new food stores in 2017, bringing the total to 216.
Chief Executive Mark Smith said: “We are pleased to have achieved another year of growth in our business. Profits this year are broadly level with 2016 on the EBITDA measure at £17.1m compared to 2016’s £17.4m. That’s because the margin earned on the significant additional sales we achieved last year has been offset by cost increases beyond our control such as National Living Wage, business rates and the Apprenticeship Levy.”
“Amongst other highlights in the year, we have built a strategic partnership with COOK, the highly-regarded specialist frozen food business, following the introduction of items from its range into a number of our stores, and we will grow this further next year.”
“2017 was also the first full year of operation for our community engagement strategy ‘Love Your Neighbourhood’, which gives local stores and funeral homes the chance to contribute to the creation of safer, greener, healthier and more inclusive neighbourhoods.”
Overall the Society contributed £1.26m to communities across the south, up 24% on last year. This total reflects Southern Co-op’s own investment alongside colleague fundraising and donations from members, suppliers and customers.
Southern Co-op’s End of Life Services business benefited from the addition of East Devon Crematorium, which was successfully integrated as a fully-owned Southern Co-op business at the start of the year.
Mark continued: “I’m pleased to say that our latest colleague opinion survey has shown a colleague engagement score of 84% and that remains amongst the best in the industry. However, we can never be complacent – so looking ahead we have plans to develop more initiatives to benefit colleagues such as a new wellbeing strategy and a significant two-year investment into upgrading colleague facilities in our retail stores.”
Southern Co-op’s Annual Review and business plan are available to view at www.thesouthernco-operative.co.uk/annual-review-2017