Lincolnshire Co-op’s food store sales have enjoyed a 7% boost during its most recent half-year trading period thanks to what it said was a busy investment programme.
The half-year to 4 March saw the society revamp outlets, add new food ranges – especially chilled and meal solutions – and sign up new services such as Costa Coffee machines, in-store bakeries and hot food to go.
Overall group sales, including the mutual’s other interests, such as travel stores, climbed 4.2%, or by £6.2m to £153m.
Cuts to pharmacy income, received for dispensing prescriptions, however, had an impact on the co-op’s bottom line.
Group trading surplus fell from last year’s £10m to £8.5m, but still “well ahead of budget”.
Another factor to the fall in the bottom line had been the planned investment in the Cornhill Quarter development in Lincoln city centre, where work started last September.
Lincolnshire Co-op spent more than £10m on capital projects during the period, including the opening of a new food store in Goxnill, North Lincolnshire, and a community hub in Holbeach featuring a library, pharmacy, post office and revamped food store.
The mutual has more than 270,000 members and has 215 outlets including 83 food stores.
It gave £103,000 split between hundreds of smaller local charities and community groups plus £290,000 worth of support to 14 homelessness charities.
Ursula Lidbetter, chief executive, said: “We’ve known about and campaigned against the cuts to pharmacy income for some time and so were able to plan for their impact.
“However, we want to ensure that the vital service community pharmacy provides is better understood by government. Our patients and customers know our pharmacies are a vital part of health provision and are about much more than prescriptions. We will continue to make strong representations on their behalf.”