Tamworth Co-operative Society is reassuring its customers and members that it is a separate business to the beleaguered Co-op Bank which has been attracting negative headlines.
Chief Executive Julian Coles says the Tamworth Co-op is in good financial shape and should not be tarred with the same brush.
“It has become apparent that some of our customers are linking us with that particular story, but we are an entirely separate and local organisation wholly owned by our members,” he said.
“I understand that the situation might appear confusing from the outside as it might seem that there is just one UK Co-op with a vast number of branches.
“However, in reality there are around 20 individual retail
co-operative societies in the UK, and we are one of the most locally concentrated.”
The Tamworth Co-operative Society was set up in the town in 1886 and has remained both local and independent.
It has become one of Tamworth’s most historic and iconic businesses consisting of a large department store, a modern supermarket, 13 convenience stores and eight funeral offices. It also operates a garage/MOT testing centre and four post offices.
In addition the business benefits from a large property portfolio which generates significant additional income.
Mr Coles says it is important to appreciate that the Tamworth
Co-operative Society is a stable business with an established management team and a board made up of local members.
“Our governance works very well and we are subject to a rigorous, annual auditing process before finalising our financial results. In the coming weeks we will be announcing our latest trading figures which will show that our performance in no way mirrors the situation with the Co-operative Bank.
“We remain a profitable organisation, founded in Tamworth and still focussed on the local community. We will continue our tradition of raising thousands of pounds for worthy organisations in this area through our Community Dividend Fund. In fact we have just started the process of handing out 16 more cheques totalling more than £11,000.”
While the economic climate continues to be ‘challenging,’ the Tamworth Society has a strong balance sheet and looks to the future with ‘guarded optimism.’
“We have been cautious in our outlook and prudent in our accounting, but we have also continued to invest large sums in our business,” said Mr Coles.
“During the last financial year, for example, we upgraded the computer system in all our food stores to enable the new members’ dividend card to be launched.
“Prior to that we invested around £700,000 to update our supermarket and we will continue to monitor opportunities to invest further to the benefit of our shoppers and members. We have also continued to make positive changes to our department store.”
He added: “We are not a national operation. We are a local concern, proud of our local roots and committed to supporting good causes in the area we trade in.”