Local Co-op remains confident following a year of soaring costs

Friday May 19, 2023

Our local independent co-op, Chelmsford Star, reported a trading update to members at their AGM last week, with the Society recording a growth in gross takings of 6.7% which was driven by a change in lifestyle following COVID-restrictions.

This was despite a bleak introduction into the current state of the economy from Chief Executive Officer Barry Wood, who presented a list of new challenges that the Society has had to face which have arisen across the year, including a 15 year high in interest rates and a 40 year high in inflation.

“Plus, as any struggling family will know, energy costs have increased, and ours have gone up 70% year on year,” said Mr Wood, “and this is despite a 3% reduction in energy consumption. Our distribution costs have increased £161,000, and this is despite a 7.9% drop in food volume. The Society has done a sterling job to mitigate the escalating costs as much as possible.” Operating costs as a whole had increased by 6.2%, leaving the Society generating a trading profit of £65k for the year.

Despite the difficult conditions, the Society had distributed approx. £30k in grants to local charities, to the DEC’s appeal to assist Ukraine and in support to Essex-based community groups. It had also introduced new benefits for its members, with total savings for them so far this year exceeding £30k.

Looking at the gross takings of each of the Society’s businesses; core ranges within their food stores had decreased by 1% against a volume decline of 7.9%. However, their Quadrant department stores reported an increase of 37% despite footfall still being 39% lower than pre-pandemic levels. Their Co-op Travel branches had increased by 280% as the travel industry continues to rebound following COVID-restrictions. Their Co-op Funeral Directors had increased by 6% ‘year on year’, helped in part by a new branch in Basildon.

Whilst there may be some difficult decisions being made in the year ahead, to protect the Society longer term, it was made clear that Chelmsford Star Co-op will continue to be supportive of its members and communities.

Full details of the audited figures and annual report can be found HERE. 


View the entire meeting unedited here.

Alternatively, you can watch the management presentations individually extracted, with presentation slides incorporated:

Financial Review & Trading Performance – Barry Wood, Chief Executive Officer

Business Developments – Brendan Smith, Chief Operating Officer

Membership & Community Initiatives – Kevin Bennett, Head of Membership & Marketing