Co-op members told they will get no vouchers as chain blames ‘challenging times and rising costs’ 

The Co-op in Tangier Road, Portsmouth. Picture by Google Maps.
The Co-op in Tangier Road, Portsmouth. Picture by Google Maps.
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A CONVENIENCE store chain that usually dishes out a share of its profits has announced that it will not be sharing any money with its members this year.

The Southern Co-Operative, which has its head office in Lakeside, North Harbour, Portsmouth and operates more than 210 stores in the south of England, told its members this week that no vouchers would be given out for the period from February 2018 to January 2019.  

It blamed challenging times on the high street and rising costs for its low profits. 

Usually, after members swipe their cards in store to earn points on purchases, they are converted into share of the profits, which is sent out as vouchers once a year.

Last year, members earned 1p for every £1 spent. 

A spokeswoman said: ‘We have informed our members that our board of directors has taken the decision not to pay a share of the profits to eligible members this year.

‘We fully recognise the disappointment this may cause but it’s important we take a long-term sustainable view. 

‘The business is doing well and continues to grow, however 2018 was another year of change and challenge in both retail and end-of-life services. Alongside others in the industry, we have been impacted by increasing costs outside of our control.

‘Given these external pressures, our 2018 profits were, as expected, somewhat lower than we achieved in 2017.’ 

However she said that they were committed to reinvesting in the business. 

She added: ‘We remain focused on achieving the best possible trading performance over the course of our 2019 financial year and beyond.

‘Whilst we understand that individual reward is important to some of our members, it is not a loyalty scheme and comes from the surplus profits available.

‘However, it is one element of how our co-op is able to support our members, customers and their communities.

‘Without our members loyalty and investment in our co-operative, we would not be able to provide support to the local causes working to create stronger, more resilient communities or help our local partners across the south of England.’ 

Customers have spoken of their disappointment after receiving letters this week.

One, who did not want to be named, said: ‘It is worrying. I have received vouchers every year for the past few years of being a member. 

‘It is disappointing.’ 

The Southern Co-Operative is not alone, for the past three years the Co-op Group has not paid a share of profits to their members.

The Southern Co-Operative will be showcasing its future plans and discussing its full year performance in more detail at its AGM tomorrow (Thursday, May 23)

Members can watch a webcast of the meeting at bethereglobal.com/sc-agm-2019/.