Co-op H1 sales hit £5.4bn, but Brexit threatens supply

Manchester-based Co-op Group said on Thursday its first-half sales increased 12% to £5.4 billion but it warned a “no deal” Brexit would create “an increased risk of some disruption” to its supply chain.

Pre-tax profit fell to £25 million in the 26 weeks to July 6 from £44 million the same time last year. 

The mutually-owned Co-op Group said £29 million was returned to members and £6 million to 4,000 local causes.

“With Brexit continuing to create uncertainty, we continue to plan and prepare as best we can,” said Co-op Group.

“In the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit there is an increased risk of some disruption to our supply chain, however we will do all we can to protect our customers and members from this impact.”

Total food sales grew 3% to £3.7 billion and like-for-like sales rose 1.7%.

However, funerals and life planning sales fell 6% to £163 million “driven by a 10% reduction in the death rate and the continued reshaping of the business in response to market changes.”

Co-op Group CEO Steve Murrells said: “We’ve enjoyed another good six months where the strength of our business has led to a further £35 million of value being generated for our members and their communities.

“Our food business continues to perform strongly in a highly competitive market and has now recorded 22 consecutive quarters of like-for-like sales growth.

“As our largest business, it is providing the fuel for our growth in terms of member value and community impact. 

“In funerals we are actively re-positioning the business to meet the changing needs of our members.

“We are the market leader but we will also lead the market in providing better choices and options for our customers in the years ahead.

“Likewise, the development in our insurance, legal and health businesses will enable us to significantly broaden the range of Co-op services, in areas where our members know the Co-op difference can be clearly seen.”