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Co-op hails performance of food business

Co-op has reported that its food business increased its like-for-like sales by 3.5% in the first half of its financial year following 14 consecutive quarters of growth.

FOOD & DRINK

Co-op hails performance of food business

Co-op has reported that its food business increased its like-for-like sales by 3.5% in the first half of its financial year following 14 consecutive quarters of growth.

In the six months to 1 July, core convenience like-for-like sales were up 4.5%.

Reported food sales were down 1.2% at £3.48 billion but 0.7% higher year-on-year when excluding the sales from the 298 stores sold to the McColl's convenience chain during the period.

Underlying profit at the food business was broadly in line with last year at £65 million while operating profit rose to £77 million from £63 million in the previous year. The increase in operating profit was largely due to gains on property and business disposals and an uplift in investment property values.

In May Co-op Food agreed with independent petrol service station operator MRH to pilot seven new franchise convenience stores. The Co-op said early trials have been encouraging with sales in the stores up by over 50%.

During the period, Co-op Food opened 34 new food stores and is on track reach its target of 100 new stores by the end of 2017.

Across the wider Co-op group, which includes insurance and funeral care businesses, revenue was stable against last year at £4.6 billion.

Pre-tax profit was up 47% to £25 million while underlying pre-tax profit declined to £14 million from a previous £27 million as insurance profits fell and members and their communities benefited from a £35 million pay out from the Co-op reward scheme.

Steve Murrells, group chief executive of the Co-op, said: "Championing a better way of doing business for our members and their communities is what the Co-op is all about and I'm delighted that we are really starting to deliver on that purpose.

"Since we launched our member reward scheme in September 2016 more than 1.1 million people have signed up to join the Co-op. As a result, we've been able to give £35 million back to our members and their communities over the first half of this year, a conscious decision to share our success with our members and the 4,000 good causes which mean so much to them.

"We can do all this because our businesses have continued to perform in the face of challenging markets. Across our business we are also maintaining our commitment of re-investing for the future success of our Co-op."

During the period, the Co-op also appointed Jo Whitfield as the new permanent chief executive of its food business.

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