Highest profits in five years for East of England Co-op

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The retailer struggled in the first half of the financial year but managed to turn things around to deliver £1 million increase in underlying profit.

Its annual report, published on Monday, warns that it expects profits to fall again next year, but says a programme of refurbishments to stores and other investments will help to secure long term success.

Overall the firm, which trades in Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex, saw turnover rise by £800,000 to £353.3 million, while there was also a 2.9 per cent increase in food sales, a £500,000 increase in its funerals business and a 17.4 per cent increase to its opticians business.

The retail outfit, with food stores in Elmswell, Haughley, Needham Market, Stowmarket and Woolpit, also increased the use of local suppliers by 37 per cent equating to £7.1 million of its food sales and supporting more than 100 local suppliers.

All of this helped offset a £8.2 million turnover decrease in its distribution business after the loss of two major contracts and a slump at the pumps where its forecourts saw a eight per cent drop in fuel sales.

Doug Field, executive officer for finance and technology, said: “These are excellent results for us and our members, despite a tough economic climate and vigorous competition. They reflect our focus on performance and profitability while being true to our commitment to trade fairly.”