THOUSANDS of Co-op members across Huddersfield will get a share of a national £50m pay-out after the group reported an 11% hike in annual profits.
The retailer also confirmed bonus payouts for its 110,000 staff – with £500 for each full-time employee and a pro-rata amount for part-time staff.
The dividend payment to members is based on how much they spend with the group over the year.
The pay-outs for members and employees are subject to approval at the group’s annual meeting next month.
The UK’s largest mutual retailer posted pre-tax profits of £217.6m in the year to January 10.
Sales at its supermarket business, which includes Somerfield following a recent takeover, rose by 5% on a like-for-like basis and excluding fuel.
First quarter like-for-like sales rose by 6.5%, according to the Co-op.
The results compare well with major supermarket rivals – with Tesco and Sainsbury’s lagging behind with annual sales growth of 3% and 4.5%.
The Co-op has scores of food stores across Kirklees and Somerfield sites in Milnsbridge and Elland.
The retailer completed its £1.5bn takeover of Somerfield last month – creating the fifth-largest food retailer with an 8% market share, 110,000 workers and 4,900 stores UK-wide generating annual sales exceeding £7bn.
The Co-op said it was benefiting from the trend for cash-conscious consumers to shop locally – with its convenience stores appealing to those not wanting to travel by car to the supermarket.
As well as now being the UK’s fifth largest food retailer, the mutual is the third largest pharmaceuticals chain, the biggest provider of funeral services and the largest independent travel business.
The Co-op is also merging its financial services business with Britannia Building Society to create a “super-mutual” with more than 300 branches. The deal is expected to be completed on August 1.
The financial services business has already reported annual profits showing a 2.8% drop to £148.7m after it took a knock from the general insurance business.
However, underlying profits were 70% ahead as customers flocked to put their money in a trusted bank.
Co-op chief executive Peter Marks said the group was “coming into its own” amid the recession.
“While the economic outlook clearly remains difficult, we believe that The Co-operative Group is in a strong position,” he said.
“Our focus on financial success combined with social responsibility is more attractive than ever before.”