Food retailer’s sales rise in lockdown

Debbie Robinson, chief executive of Central England Co-operative.Debbie Robinson, chief executive of Central England Co-operative.
Debbie Robinson, chief executive of Central England Co-operative.
A leading retailer saw profits and sales rise during the Covid-19 lockdown period.

The Central England Co-operative, which operates scores of convenience stores as well as a number of funeral and floral sites across the Peterborough area has reported sales of £486.4 million in the first half of the year up 6.4% compared to £484.6 million in 2019.

Its trading profit rose from £11.4 million last year to £19.3 million this year.

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Debbie Robinson, chief executive, said: “This has been an incredibly strong performance in the first half of the year which has been driven significantly by our food business.

“While there are significant challenges ahead, we are in a very strong position, with a solid balance sheet and talented people to build a sustainable Society for all.”

The Co-op has also outlined the cost of the ensuing the safety of its 7,000 frontline colleagues.

It provided them with more than three million items of PPE, hand sanitiser, protective screens and face coverings.

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It revamped the Society’s Community Dividend Fund to provide urgent financial support to help groups hit by the pandemic and made major donations to FareShare Midlands and Dementia to ensure their work could continue.

Additional Covid-19 costs totalled £9.3 million, with the Society receiving £5.4 million in government support in the form of business rates relief, property grants and furlough payments for a number of colleagues. More than one million meals distributed to those in need via its food redistribution project with FareShare Midlands.

Ms Robinson said: “Thank our colleagues for their heroic efforts during these difficult times and also our Board, our members, our customers and our communities for their support and for working with us during this pandemic to ensure we stay safe and well.”

“Safety has always been our top priority, and we have invested in a number of measures to ensure we have been able to provide a secure environment for our colleagues, members and customers.”

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