Manchester-based Co-op Group said its revenue slipped £200 million to £5.4 billion in the 26 weeks to July 1, 2023, despite a 55% increase in new members.
The Co-op attracted 430,000 new members in the first half versus 278,000 in H1 of 2022.
“This is ahead of expected progress and demonstrates the level of ambition we have in membership acquisition,” said Co-op Group, which is mutually owned by its members.
The marginal fall in revenue was driven by lower revenue in food retail resulting from the impact of petrol forecourt sales.
Underlying loss before tax in the first half was reduced to £9 million from £68 million for the same period of 2022.
Co-op Group said it has continued its work to strengthen its balance sheet, resulting in net debt of £123 million, a big reduction of £608 million on the £731 million reported for H1 of 2022.
Co-op Group CEO Shirine Khoury-Haq said: “I am very proud of our success over the last six months, particularly given the prevailing economic and market conditions.
“This performance wouldn’t have been possible had we not taken the decisions we did, as early as we did in 2022, when it came to better management of our members’ money and running the business more efficiently.
“While the economic environment remains challenging, we have again improved our underlying financial strength, significantly grown our membership base and delivered more for our members and their communities.
“We have done this while staying true to our Rochdale Principles, cooperating through partnerships and campaigning on topics which matter to our members most.
“We have invested heavily in supporting our members, communities, colleagues and customers through the cost-of-living crisis, and we will continue to do so.
“The business momentum established in the second half of the last financial year has carried through into the first six months of 2023 and has allowed us to significantly strengthen our membership offer and proposition – we have put our member-owners at the heart of what we do.
“We have listened to what they need, and we have not hesitated in our response.”