Member Support Gives Local Co-op A Major Boost

Wednesday May 15, 2024

Our Society reported a year-on-year increase in operating profit from £65,000 to £522,000 despite the ongoing economic challenges facing retailers.

At our AGM on Monday night, Chief Executive Officer Barry Wood presented a picture of strength under fire as the Society battled the challenges facing the retail sector. This strength came from Chelmsford Star’s members, with a significant increase in their spending following changes to the Society’s benefits package. Mr Wood commented:

“The range of instant discounts we introduced to our members last January has seen the level of trade increase significantly throughout the year with the Society’s food business recording a 4.9% increase in turnover.

In turn, we’ve passed this back to them, and I’m pleased to report that they saved over £219,000 on their shopping in 2023 through instant member discounts. This has a huge impact during these tough times, and we will continue to offer these very real benefits in the year ahead. Add to that, a further £40,000 in dividend has also been distributed this week.”

It means that, despite listing large increases to the Society’s operating costs, energy bills and distribution fees, Chelmsford Star has ridden the storm well.

But why change their members’ benefits?

Following member feedback, it became apparent that there was a greater need for relief with day-to-day shopping bills than there was for an annual dividend payout. In response, the Society introduced a series of instant member rewards, partly funded by a drop in dividend rate, and Members have responded extremely positively. In addition to the huge upswing in operating profit, profits before taxation were up 77% and the number of new members joining the Society were more than double the year before.

The positive results were mostly driven by our Co-op Food business, which increased its gross takings by 4.9% ‘year on ‘year’, with the funeral business also reporting growth of 2.2%. Ongoing challenges, caused by the lingering effects of the pandemic, have seen both Co-op Travel and Quadrant Department stores making a loss, with the latter seeing a decline of 4.2% in gross takings. Nevertheless, 99% of their customers said their shopping experience was ‘good or excellent’.

The Society also announced over £30k in grants and donations had been made to local charities through its Community Fund and other fundraising initiatives.

Whilst Chelmsford Star Co-op remains impacted by increases in inflation and interest rates, it continues to demonstrate its resilience in facing any challenges and – with the help of its members – will keep striving to excel under difficult economic conditions.

A full Annual Report for Chelmsford Star’s 2023/24 financial year can be found here.