Sales for Co-op soar to £140m

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SOARING sales saw Lincolnshire Co-operative’s trading surplus rise from £9.6million to £10.2million in the half year to the end of March – a leap of six per cent.

Total sales grew from £135million to £140million over the period.

Sales across Lincolnshire Co-op’s 70 food stores climbed by 3.6 per cent and the number of prescriptions issued by its 47 pharmacies rose by 3.3 per cent, offsetting a cut in NHS revenue.

The Co-op says it completed a number of refurbishment programmes during the period, including a funeral home at Holbeach.

The society underlined its commitment to keeping open its 40-strong network of Post Office branches, including the Winsover Road branch in Spalding, which moved to a new unit following the closure of the Winsover Centre foodstore, coffee shop and home store in the centre of the town.

Some 9,721 new members have joined the society this year.

Membership currently stands at more than 198,000 and the society aims to boost that to 200,000 this year as it celebrates its 150th birthday.

The society’s grants and donations included gifts to Spalding Flower Parade and the St Barnabas Hospice Moonlight Walks in Spalding and four other county towns.

The Co-op is continuing its alcohol awareness programme to educate young people on the dangers of alcohol and since its launch in September more than 3,000 pupils at schools and colleges have benefited.

Co-op chief executive Ursula Lidbetter said as well as coping with the economic downturn, its staff had to battle the elements when the worst weather for many years hit in November and December.

The buoyant trade figures brought a bonus for staff with each of the 2,700 employees receiving a bonus equal to 80 per cent of a weekly wage to be spent in society outlets.

Ms Lidbetter said the Co-op is owned by its members and all profits go back to them “whether through dividend, supporting good local causes or investing in new and improved services”.