Co-op revenue up 8% to £5.8bn in first half

Manchester-based Co-op Group said on Thursday its half-year revenues increased 7.6% to £5.8 billion for the 26 weeks to July 4 “driven by exceptional performances from food and wholesale.”

Revenue in the Co-op’s food business rose 5.2% to £3.9 billion “as customers shopped closer to home and ate out less frequently during lockdown.”

Covid-19 costs were £54 million including additional recruitment and PPE purchase, with Covid-19 costs expected to be £97 million for the full year.

Group underlying operating profit doubled to £121 million, with profit before tax up 35% at £27 million.

Group loss after tax and discontinued items was £26 million, compared to a profit of £41 million at the same stage of 2019.

Co-op Group operates over 2,600 food stores and is owned by around 4.6 million active members. It also operates Co-op Funeralcare, Insurance, Health and Legal Services. 

Co-op CEO Steve Murrells said: “We are living in unprecedented times, but the response of our Co-op has been exceptional and I’m immensely proud of my 60,000 colleagues who’ve helped to feed and care for the nation during this difficult period.

“We’ve shown how our co-operative approach to doing business provides enhanced value for our customer-members and the communities in which they live.

“At a time of crisis, our country needs a strong and progressive Co-op and these results evidence that we are ready to deliver even more for our key stakeholders. 

“Our vision of co-operating for a fairer world has taken on even greater resonance during this exceptional time, with the pandemic bringing to light inequalities and injustices which no longer feel remotely tolerable.

“Actions, however, clearly need to marry with the words, which is why we have announced four important initiatives – improvements to colleague pay and benefits; our new diversity and inclusion commitments; the creation of new routes to work and our relaunch of membership.

“Being a Co-op has never felt more meaningful and right.

“The role of business in society is changing and we are proud to lead the way.

“Everything we are doing points to a Co-op in tune with the communities in which it operates, one which is determined to innovate and drive change for the benefit of our members and the places where they live and work. 

“The coming months and years remain uncertain, and we know our own Co-op will not be immune to the pressures the recession brings to family budgets and to local and national economies.

“We will continue to invest within our core businesses to ensure that our Co-op value resonates within Co-op households and local communities.”