Community retailer Lincolnshire Co-op has had a solid trading year, with overall sales up 12% to £399m, and a return to pre-pandemic performance from its travel agencies.
It means the society’s members will share in a dividend bonus of £1.6m which will be paid onto dividend cards on Saturday 26th November, in addition to £1.9m already paid during the financial year.
Sales in travel shot up, showing growth on pre-pandemic trading years. Almost a quarter of clients have booked with the society’s travel branches for the first time with many wanting the support and security of using a travel agent after the disruption caused by Covid-19.
Food sales steadied, maintaining the strong performance of recent years. The Love Local range, supporting producers from across the trading area, recorded sales of £4.8m, a welcome boost to those local businesses.
In pharmacies, prescription items dispensed were up 3 per cent, totalling 5.9 million items.
The teams provide a wide range of community health services too. 16,302 patients were guided through the use of their medication as part of the New Medicines Service (NMS). Over 25,000 jabs were administered at the society’s Covid vaccination sites in Lincoln and Boston and 13,040 flu vaccines were delivered in branch and at community-based clinics.
Funeral branches helped families with 2,772 funeral arrangements in the year. Post offices continued to provide valued services for communities, with banking services proving particularly useful in rural areas.
New food stores opened in Retford and Barnetby during 2022 and construction is taking place at a further five food store sites, due to open in 2023.
Colleagues received two profit share bonuses totalling almost an extra week’s wages.
The society’s overall sales were up 12% to £399m.Trading surplus, though down by 9.1%, remained healthy at £16.6m. Rising costs – including energy and food distribution – had an impact during the year and will continue to present challenges over the next trading period.
Lincolnshire Co-op supports good causes in a range of different ways, including through its Community Champions scheme which sees a donation given to a good cause every time a member shops using their dividend card. A total of 496 groups and charities shared £680,776 raised this year.
Collection points for local food banks and community larders are in all food stores and two targeted campaigns in the year encouraged people to give specific goods needed at that time, as well as contributing by donating dividend.
Colleagues have two paid days of volunteering annually and gave 1,319 hours to the community this year though projects as diverse as planting trees, revamping local war memorials and supporting local school children with careers advice.
The society has registered with the internationally-recognised Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) showing it is committed to setting targets to reduce emissions, including from gas, electricity, vehicle use and refrigeration, as well as within the supply chain.
CEO Ursula Lidbetter said: “After two years where the pandemic dominated, we have seen a return to a more typical trading year. The travel industry was hit hard by the pandemic and recovery this year has been gratifying to see.
“There have been challenges too. Rising costs, the tough economic climate and social issues will continue to test us for the foreseeable future.
“But thanks to the commitment of our colleagues and the support of members and customers, as well as by using our resources wisely, we will continue to invest in our services and support our communities.”