|Headquarters||1000 Lakeside, North Harbour, Western Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire PO6 3FE|
|Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Sussex, Berkshire, Somerset, Surrey, Devon, Bristol, Kent and parts of Dorset and Wiltshire.|
|Mark Ralf, Chair|
Mark Smith, Chief Executive
|Products||Grocer, Funeral director, Independent living|
|Revenue||£466.8 million (19/20)|
Number of employees
Southern Co-op (originally Portsea Island Mutual Co-operative Society) is a regional consumer co-operative in the United Kingdom. The principal activities of the Society are food retailing and funerals. It operates over 200 convenience stores and 50 funeral homes, covering the southern English counties of Berkshire, Bristol, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Somerset, Surrey, Sussex and Wiltshire. Southern Co-op society is owned by over 145,000 members who share in the business's profits and democratically control its operations. It is a registered Industrial and Provident Society,
The business of the Southern Co-op includes a natural burial ground in West Sussex and crematoria in Hampshire and Devon, as well as an online home shopping service, Co-operative Mobility. Additionally, the Co-op franchises over 20 stores that trade under the Welcome brand and has a franchise project with Starbucks.
In the full year ending 27 January 2020, Southern Co-op recorded sales of £466.8m (£450.9m 2018/19) and a profit before tax of £1.18 million (£42.000 2018/19). Society membership was 145,000 in 2019/20, up from 144,000 in 2018/19.
Southern Co-op was formed in 1873 by dockyard workers who had transferred from Woolwich docks in east London to the Portsmouth dockyard. The workers had previously set up a successful Co-operative Society in Woolwich. When they arrived in Portsmouth they decided to replicate a similar set-up there.
In December 1872, 30 people attended a public meeting and unanimously agreed to pay one shilling (12 old pence) for the establishment of a local Co-operative. After five months, the Portsea Island Mutual Co-operative Society's first shop opened in Charles Street on 9 May 1873.
Southern co-op operates over 200 Co-operative Food stores, covering Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Sussex, Berkshire, Somerset, Surrey, Devon, Bristol, Kent and parts of Dorset and Wiltshire.
Southern Co-op's performance in delivering sales and margin growth last year was strong with total revenue £16m higher, an increase of +3.5%. The growth, along with careful control of margins, delivered £10.6m growth in Gross Profit to £137.1m. Profit Before Tax is £1.2m (19/20) which represents an increase of £1.1m on the total (after exceptional items) reported in the prior year. The balance sheet remains strong with Net Assets of £128m (£126m) of which, £18m is held as cash. Southern Co-op has no net debt at year end and significant banking facilities remain unused and available to support the future growth plans. The closed defined benefit pension scheme has again reported a surplus for accounting purposes this year with an increase in the surplus of £3m.
Mark Smith (chief Exec) Said 'Against this challenging background, we achieved another year of total food sales growth and recorded a like for like sales increase of 3.4% which was the second consecutive year of above +3% like for like sales growth. Importantly, we also grew volume growth in 2019 with a rise of 1.4% in the number of products sold. In addition to this growth in our managed food estate we saw further expansion of our franchised Welcome convenience store business with 10 new stores opened in the year. The growth in our own store sales in part reflects the work we have done this year to deliver a better IT system infrastructure for our food business along with simplified and standardised processes for stores. During 2019 we successfully completed the roll out of a major new end to end retail IT system to more than two hundred stores. This assists with managing product range and availability, as well as providing new point of sale tills in all stores. The new technology will enable us to serve customers better going forward. We have also begun to roll out self-service checkout technology across our estate. Turning to areas outside of food, during 2019, we successfully consolidated the Starbucks business operated by Cobra Coffee Ltd, that we had purchased at the end of 2018, into a single franchise alongside our original Starbucks stores. To enable us to maximise impact and efficiency, all our Starbucks activities going forward will be delivered through our Cobra Coffee Ltd subsidiary. At year end this had 20 stores trading following the successful recent addition of a new store in Horsham. Through this carefully managed diversification we can get more out of our proven capabilities as a business, spread overheads and risk, and provide additional profit growth to support the things we want to do as a co-op. Progress has been harder to come by in End of Life Services this year. This is primarily a result of lower death rates. Along with the industry as a whole, we have also seen the adverse impact of government led reviews of the national funeral market. We are confident that we remain a high quality operator in the funeral services sector. We welcome the direction towards greater regulation of the industry as a whole. This would extend the higher standards already operated by us and some others to the whole industry to the benefit of consumers. We are also aware that other changes are taking place in the funeral market with new customer demand in areas such as cremations without a ceremony. We are aligning our strategy for our End of Life business to reflect how we think these market changes will play out over the next few years. We have successfully delivered our 2019 property business plan. As part of this, we have sold some of the less strategic assets out of our freehold property portfolio. It is our intention to re-invest these proceeds into better quality real estate opportunities when they are available. At year end we continued to hold these proceeds mainly as cash'.
Reducing our foodprint, we are trialling a new waste reduction initiative, called Reducing our Foodprint, which gives customers the opportunity to buy products past their best before date for a nominal value. The trial was first launched in Clanfield in December and was later extended to our Tangier Road, Portsmouth store. Customers are able to purchase selected products beyond their ‘best before’ date as this date relates to quality, not the safety of the product. This has been well received in both communities and if successful we hope to extend the trial. Reducing our Foodprint builds on other work already carried out to reduce the amount of products which are unsold because they have gone past their ‘use by’ date. As part of our sustainability plan, 100% of store waste is already diverted from landfill including foods which are broken down to produce biogas and bio-fertiliser through anaerobic digestion. Food donation A new partnership between The Co-operative Food in Freshwater and The Real Junk Food Project IOW has already made a significant difference to the community. In just six months, more than 600 boxes of bread, pastries, fruit and vegetables have been diverted from waste and transformed into hundreds of meals on the Isle of Wight. Our partnership with Portsmouth Foodcycle which is supported by three retail stores in Portsmouth has also continued. End of Life Services recycling Working with a new waste contractor in 2020, we will be looking at opportunities to improve recycling within our end of life services estate.
- "Landmark 200th store for Southern". Co-operative News. 2 August 2016.
- "Home". Southern Co-op. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
- "Southern Co-op Annual Review 2019-2020". thesouthernco-operative.co.uk. Retrieved 2020-09-16.
- "1000 Lakeside is the new home for the Southern Co-operative". Southern Co-operative. 24 March 2011.