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10 May, 2022 - 20:59 By Tony Quested

East of England Co-op turns £1.7m loss into £7.6m profit

The East of England Co-op – the largest independent retailer in East Anglia with over 230 branches across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex – turned a £1.7 million loss into a thumping pre-tax profit of £7.6m with a remarkable turnaround performance for the 2021-22 financial year.

The organisation credited the bounceback to an increase in the value of its investment property portfolio plus not having the one-off costs witnessed in 2020/21.

Underlying trading profit of £1.5m, was lower than expected following a challenging year which saw disruption to the supply chain in its food stores in late 2021. 

Turnover fell slightly by 0.3 per cent to £348.6m as people’s food shopping habits returned to normal following the national lockdowns. 

Despite experiencing a drop in food sales in 2021/22, they were 5.9 per cent higher last year than in 2019/20 (pre-pandemic) and the decline was partially offset by an increase in sales of more than 50 per cent at East of England Co-op petrol filling stations.

Elsewhere within the business, the East of England Co-op saw a 1.2 per cent upturn in the number of funerals taking place, an increase in income from its investment properties and an 18.3 per cent rise in sales through its stonemasonry business, H L Perfitt – generating sales in excess of £2m. 

Joint chief executive Doug Field, said: “It’s been a much tougher 12 months than we anticipated due to factors outside of our control. However, the resolve shown by our colleagues in dealing with the challenges we’ve faced has been staggering. 

“Despite it being a challenging year, we’re pleased to have recorded a growth in pre-tax profits and increases in sales across our investment property, petrol filling stations, funeral and stonemasonry businesses. 

“We are ending the 2021/22 financial year with a strong balance sheet and sound finances and have the funds and resources to continue to invest in growing our business.”

Last year, the East of England Co-op awarded more than £200,000 worth of grants to local voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations through its Community Cares Fund. 

The Co-op also donated more than £22,000 to 25 food banks across Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk last year. This included cash donations directly to foodbanks along with money raised through foodbank donation gift cards as well as items donated by members, customers and colleagues via in-store donation points. 

The East of England Co-op has a £125m investment portfolio of 500 properties throughout East Anglia, including just under 250 residential units.  

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