The Channel Islands Co-op has announced that it could be forced to slash or suspend its “divvy” payments this year, as a result of ‘extremely challenging market conditions’.
The local retailer has written to members to say that a proposition allowing its board to decide whether dividend rates should be reduced, or whether no dividend should be paid this year, will be presented in May at its Annual Members Meeting.
Islanders have taken to social media to express their outrage at the announcement, which will affect consumers of all ages, as well as local charities who have share numbers that some shoppers choose to use.
Today, long queues of customers queued at the Co-op’s Grande Marche store to withdraw their previous dividend funds from their accounts.
Our Chairman, Carl Walker, has described the news as ‘another blow for consumers’.
Speaking to the local media, he said that is was unfair and immoral to take a dividend from people who had been consciously building it up, with many Islanders choosing to shop at the Co-op purely because of the 4% dividend that they’ve always known they will receive – especially as every receipt they have received previously told them what they would be getting back. He said that many Islanders see the payment as a bonus, and many make plans each year on how they will spend it.
"I've been speaking to Coop customers this morning, who are queuing up with their share books in their hands withdrawing their money which they've saved up in there over the years because they are angry at the decision that the Co-op surprised everyone with," said Mr Walker. "They're angry that the announcement hasn't come sooner or that the announcement isn't warning them that maybe next year's dividend would be withheld."
Writing to members, the Chief Executive Officer of the Co-op, Mark Cox, said: “Regardless of our concerted efforts, our end-of-year financial report will reflect a notable reduction in our net surplus. Faced with this decline, the Society must make some tough decisions that will impact our members. This may involve either reducing dividend payments or suspending them entirely for the 2023 financial year."