Tamworth Co-op financial results up by 11 per cent – but town centre trading still challenging

Strong performances in the food and funeral divisions of Tamworth Co-operative Society have enabled it to record another encouraging year’s trading.

Figures announced at the annual meeting on April 25, 2018 revealed a total trading surplus of £1,190,000 – an 11 per cent increase on the previous year.

Tamworth Co-op chief executive Julian Coles smiling.

Tamworth Co-op chief executive Julian Coles.

Chief executive Julian Coles said the convenience stores, followed by the funeral division, made the most telling contributions during the year up to January 27.

“Convenience food shopping is becoming ever more important across our area,” said Mr Coles. “That is reflected in the short space of time it has taken for our purpose-built stores in Dosthill and Glascote to become established.

“An increasing number of local people now prefer to get their shopping in for a day or two, rather than complete a huge shop every week or fortnight. We have responded by offering more fresh produce than ever before.”

Looking to the future Tamworth Co-op has bought the former Cuckoo’s Rest pub in Dordon from Punch Taverns, and subject to planning permission hopes to develop a new convenience store on that site. A second proposal to replace the existing Dordon shop with a small housing development is also due to be considered by the local authority.

While delighted with the performance of the Society’s 11 convenience stores, Mr Coles warned the situation with its town centre operations was ‘challenging.’

“In common with many other retailers, we can report that town centre trading remains difficult. That applies to our supermarket in Church Street and in particular to our department store which recorded a small loss.”

The department store is now trading from two floors instead of three after the top floor café concession closed due to increased competition in the town. The Store Twenty One concession on the ground floor also shut following the liquidation of the national chain. This, however, paved the way for High Street retailers Dorothy Perkins and Burton Menswear to be welcomed into the building in what was considered to be a coup for the Society.

Glascote Co-op next to canal with barge and people on it cruising along.

Tamworth Co-op’s convenience stores, like this purpose-built one at Glascote, contributed to the strong performance.

During the year Tamworth Co-op invested in a new funeral fleet of luxury Jaguar vehicles, while a major revamp of its Kingsbury convenience store was unveiled on March 6. The latter now boasts the latest refrigeration and air conditioning units along with improved warehousing facilities.

The deficit in the final Salary Pension Scheme, which closed to future accrual in 2009, fell to £6.8m. The Society made a £500,000 cash contribution to the scheme earlier in the year.

Valuation of Tamworth Co-op’s property investments rose slightly to £6.5m, with net assets overall increasing from £12.4m to £13.1m. The cash in the bank figure now stands at £2.1m and will help fund improvement projects in 2018. The overall surplus before taxation reached £800,000, 12 per cent up on the previous year.

“I’d like to thank our staff, plus our shoppers and members for helping to keep the Society in good financial shape,” said Mr Coles.

“The board has agreed to pay a dividend of two per cent on all qualifying purchases. We are heartened by the latest set of financial results, but not complacent because there are various factors which could affect future trading.

“In keeping with our historic values, we once again gave away a significant sum of money to the neighbourhoods we serve. Our Community Dividend Fund raises around £10,000 each year for community groups allied to our food locations. We also support the community with our Cash in the Bag scheme which last year handed out £20,000.”

He added: “Tamworth Co-op is one of the town’s most historic and best known organisations. It is also one of the biggest employers in the area with nearly 300 people on the payroll. We are a local, independent Society and have been continually investing in the Tamworth area since 1886. We will continue to do so.”