Food sales buoys East of England Co-op throughout pandemic

The East of England Co-op is in a strong position to tackle the challenges ahead having remained resilient throughout the coronavirus pandemic, as their 2020/21 results show.

A significant increase in Food sales has helped to offset the inevitable impact of the pandemic on other areas of the East of England Co-op’s diverse family of businesses.

Doug Field, Joint Chief Executive, (pictured second left with the other three chief executives) said, “It’s been a tough year, but the unshakable dedication and commitment of our colleagues has been extraordinary. Without them we wouldn’t be able to make the incredible, positive impact we have on the daily lives of our members, customers and communities.

“Things will never be the same again and 2021 is likely to remain challenging, but we will continue to work hard to stay ahead of the curve and keep our business thriving.

“Most importantly, we will continue to run our Co-op as it should be, improving the daily lives of our members, communities, customers and colleagues. Our Community Cares Fund is key to this commitment.

“We set up our Community Cares Fund in April 2020 in response to the collective crisis our region was facing as a result of the pandemic. To kick start the fund our Co-op donated over £230,000 which was quickly added to by our generous members who donated almost £140,000 from their dividend.”

Commenting on the 2020/21 financial results, Field said, “In a year like no other we are delighted to have generated trading profits of £7.2m.

“This £2.7m increase on last year’s trading profits, wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication and resilience of our colleagues. This boost in trading profits is down to additional profits generated from our food stores.

“Our Co-op is a diverse mix of businesses, operating many smaller supermarkets and convenience stores that support villages and small towns across the region and have for many customers, been the only source of food. In contrast, several of our other businesses have had to close for significant periods since March 2020 in line with government guidance.

“So, despite an increase in trading profits we ended the financial year with a loss before tax of £1.7m.

“Throughout the pandemic our priority has been the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues, members and communities and we have invested well over £1 million to keep everyone safe. We have benefited from the support provided by the government, which has helped offset the costs we have been incurring.

“Across the areas of our business which continued to trade as normal, we are pleased to have seen a 4.2% increase in sales.

“As the principle part of our business, we were delighted to see a £26.6m increase in Food sales. Despite a lower number of visits to our Food stores, those who visited spent more which helped increase sales and offset the negative Covid impacts from across our family of businesses.'

Looking ahead to the rest of 2021 and the recovery from the pandemic, Field commented, “We are in a strong position to tackle the challenges that face our family of businesses.

“We will continue to invest in our business to ensure we have a vibrant future. This includes leveraging the benefit of our investment in technology and looking for more Food stores.'


“Given the dedication of our colleagues and the adaptability they have shown in the last year, together with our strong financial foundation, we have the resources we need to keep us ahead of the curve.”