The Co-op reports record performance

The Co-operative Group has reported strong growth in sales and profit across its businesses despite admitting that the current economic climate is “biting deeper than expected”.

Co-op's 'Join the Revolution' campaign
Co-op’s ’Join the Revolution’ campaign

The group reported pre-tax profit of £414.4m for the year ending 1 January, up from £411m a year earlier.

Group sales increased 9.1% to £13.7bn during the period. Food sales grew by 4.8% to £7.5bn and it reported a 10% rise in its funeralcare business and a 3.5% rise in the pharmacy business.

Sales in The Co-op’s financial services business grew by 23.6% to £2.5bn, following the integration of Britannia last year.

Peter Marks, The Co-op CEO warns of tough economic conditions into 2012 and says the UK is facing a “a long, slow climb out of the recession” but believes that the business is in good shape to “make the most of opportunities” when the economic situation improves.

Marks adds: “In 2011 we will still be a business in transition. We have revitalised our brand, invested millions in our store and branch estate, and improved our products and our service. But the journey is not complete. We are still getting ourselves in shape for the future.”

“With consumers feeling the squeeze on their spending, I know that all of our businesses will have to fight for their market share. That means we must make even greater efforts.”

The Co-op’s restructured management board is looking to drive collaboration and efficiency across its businesses and “leverage the rejuvenated co-operative brand”.

The group says that the results mark the end of its three year business plan since the merger with United Co-operatives in 2007, which has resulted in a doubling of profits, sales and members.

It is also awaiting approval for its proposed merger with Thomas Cook travel, which it believes will “secure The Co-operative Travel brand on the high street for many years to come”.

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