Heart of England Co-operative Society weathers stormy retail climate to reveal healthy figures


Friday, May 11, 2018

Ali Kurji, Chief Executive of the Heart of England

  • Like-for-like food sales increase by 6.75 per cent amid unprecedented competition
  • Like-for-like funeral sales increase by 12.2 per cent
  • Society’s net worth up by 12.9 per cent to £40.7 million
  • Revaluation of investment properties increases from £1.7 million to £5.5 million
  • Group turnover rises by 2.4 per cent to £71.7 million

The Heart of England Co-operative Society has reported a hugely successful trading performance in 2017.

The figures revealed that the Society is on an upward trajectory across all facets of the business, with net worth increasing by 12.9 per cent to £40.7 million, with excellent performances from both its Food and Funeral Divisions.

Food sales in the 52 weeks to January 20th rose by 6.75 per cent.
Most of the increase came from the convenience stores which recorded an overall increase in sales of 8.3 per cent, while the larger stores achieved an increase of 2.5 per cent.

The newly-rebuilt Food store in Long Lawford has seen consistent sales increases of 70 per cent or more since it was first unveiled last March.

The Meriden store, the subject of an extension in August, has seen similar consistent increases of 40 per cent.

The Funeral Division too reported an increase in sales, reaching 12.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis on the previous year. Its contribution to the Society’s overall sales rose by 26.9 per cent.

Pre-paid funeral plan sales rose by 36 per cent over the year, while sales of masonry over the year increased by 17 per cent.

The funeral homes in Nuneaton, Kenilworth and Kenpas Highway – all opened within the past four years – continue to achieve satisfactory sales, as do other satellite funeral homes, including the Asian Funeral Home in Foleshill Road, Coventry.

Recent projects include the launch of the low-cost, direct funeral service some 18 months ago which has been well received by client families, and the refurbishment of the funeral home in Lower Holyhead Road, which has been well received by client families and the local community.

And the Leamington Funeral Home fended off stiff competition from businesses across a wide range of sectors to win the award for Customer Service Excellence in the Leamington Business Awards.

The Society won the Corporate Commitment to the Community Award in the Coventry Telegraph’s Business Awards, in recognition of its consistent hard work for the benefit of members, customers and its communities.

It raised more than £49,000 through the sales of carrier bags over the year, all of which was shared among a number of charities, while a further £16,700 raised by employees, and topped up from carrier bag sales to make £25,000, was awarded to the Society’s corporate charity, Guide Dogs.

Altogether the Society has donated the fantastic sum of £50,000 to Guide Dogs over two years.

This successful year for the Society came about during one of the most challenging and difficult years in recent times, with tough trading conditions which saw a number of companies issued profit warnings.

With discount retailers enjoying a considerable increase in market share, The Co-operative Group announcing plans to reduce prices on almost 600 lines, slow progress over Brexit negotiations affecting consumer confidence, and the recent increase in interest rates, Ali Kurji, Chief Executive, said although the past 12 months had been a success, 2018 would prove a tough year.

Mr Kurji added: “For more than 185 years our Society has served the community of Coventry, Warwickshire, south Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, and these figures demonstrate the important role community retailers still hold, here today in 2017.

“We continue to uphold the values of our original visionaries whose foresight has helped us to enjoy continuous steady growth all this time and through the most difficult of climates.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our staff for their personal efforts during the year. It is your hard work and dedication which allows our Society to continue to expand, even when it seems the odds are stacked against us. Your efforts, coupled with our policies, will ensure our Society continues to serve its loyal customer base for many more generations to come.”

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