Celebrations at Lincolnshire Co-op as sales push past £300 million milestone

Lincolnshire Co-op has seen its sales hit new heights.   Picture: Chris Vaughan/Chris Vaughan Photography Date: June 16, 2016
Lincolnshire Co-op has seen its sales hit new heights. Picture: Chris Vaughan/Chris Vaughan Photography Date: June 16, 2016
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Sales at retailer Lincolnshire Co-op have broken through the £300 million mark for the first time in the society’s 155 year history.

New figures show that Lincolnshire Co-op’s total sales increased by £9 million to £301 million during the 2015/16 financial year and its trading surplus rose by four per cent to £20 million.

Ursula Lidbetter, chairman of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Ursula Lidbetter, chairman of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

It means that the Co-op’s 260,000 members will share a £1.6 million in bonus on top of the £1.9 million already paid out during the year – a total of £3.5 million.

Members will be asked to approve a dividend bonus of 85p per £1 of dividend collected during the year when they attend the society’s annual meeting this month

A Lincolnshire Co-op spokeswoman said it represents an average return of 3.1 per cent to each member on the value of their shopping.

In addition, Lincolnshire Co-op’s 2,900 colleagues will benefit from a profit share scheme and will be paid the equivalent of an extra week and a half’s wages.

Chief executive Co-op Ursula Lidbetter said: “We’re a local business and we’ve had a fantastic year thanks to the support of our 260,000 members, who live, work and shop in this area.

“We’re successful and able to reach milestones such as £300 million of sales or recruiting almost 25,000 new members because customers know we offer something different as a co-operative.

She added: “People choose Lincolnshire Co-op because of our great people and range of services, but also because they know every penny spent with us makes a difference.

“Their support means we can tackle projects, both big and small, that have a positive impact on the community – from major investments like the Cornhill Quarter and Science and Innovation Park in Lincoln, to clearing up beaches on the Lincolnshire coast during volunteering days or giving free health checks through our roaming health pod.”

Strong performers during the year, include the Co-op’s food stores, which saw sales rise by 6.9 per cent.

Local goods continued to prove popular – with Lincolnshire Co-op’s own bakers Gadsby’s, based in Southwell, increasing sales by seven per cent and sales of the Love Local range, featuring local meat and goods from small producers, going up by nine per cent.

In pharmacies, 5.5 million prescriptions were dispensed and income rose by 3.4 per cent.

One new initiative was the launch of the Community Health Pod - a five metre tall inflatable blue marquee which toured the area, staffed by a team offering free healthy living advice.

The pod visited 17 locations, giving out more than 600 health checks and 1,000 BMI assessments.

Travel branches grew sales with an increase of 4.6 per cent in 2015/16 and income from the society’s funeral homes, florist and crematorium rose by 5.7 per cent.

Over the year, £18.8 million was invested in developments, including opening eight new outlets.

This year, Lincolnshire Co-op opened food stores in Wragby, Boston and Gainsborough, a food store and a coffee shop in Collingham, a food store and post office in Old Leake and a pharmacy in Heckington.

Refurbishments took place at a further 35 outlets including a number of the Society’s post offices, which are a key community facility.

More than 24,800 people signed up to be members of Lincolnshire Co-op in 2015/16.

Its Community Champions scheme links dividend card holders to good causes near them.

Every time a member shops, a donation goes to the current Community Champion. These donations are now combined with staff fundraising and the proceeds from the carrier bag levy.

This year 579 organisations shared in the £320,804 raised through the Community Champions scheme.

These included Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire wildlife trusts, which benefited from £81,636. Charities Rethink Mental Illness and Headway, which supports people living with brain injuries, shared £86,984.

Volunteering projects are regularly organised by Lincolnshire Co-op and this year, resulted in a total of 10,043 hours being given to the community by both staff and members of the society.