The Co-operative Group, the UK’s largest mutual retailer, today announces a solid trading performance for the fourth quarter, against the backdrop of a tough trading environment, exacerbated by the severe weather conditions.
Food store exteriorAcross the Trading Group – which encompasses all Co-operative Group retail businesses, but excludes financial services – like-for-like sales fell by 0.6%* in the 13 weeks to 1st Jan 2011. In Food, like-for-like sales fell 3.2%, as a result of the impact of the extreme weather on both footfall and spending patterns across the Group’s national network, as well as the planned acceleration of the programme to convert Somerfield stores to The Co-operative Group fascia. During the period close to 200 stores were closed on average for seven days a time to allow for
full refits. Despite this the core convenience estate, which includes both Co-operative & Somerfield stores, saw like-for-like sales increase by 2%.
Combined like-for-like sales in the Group’s non-food businesses increased by 12.1% with particularly strong sales performances from the online electrical, motor and travel operations.
Peter Marks, Group Chief Executive, said “We have delivered a solid trading performance across our retail businesses in a difficult environment. The exceptionally cold weather created logistical issues for our food stores – particularly given the sheer scale and geographic spread of our estate. Our people worked exceptionally hard to ensure that we provided a great service to all our customers – and the strong performance of our core convenience estate is a testament to all their efforts.
“The planned acceleration of the Somerfield conversion programme was an added issue– but this continues at pace and we remain on track to complete the process by Spring 2011.
“The performance of our non-food businesses was very strong overall and, together with the excellent progress made by our financial services business, we are confident that 2010 will have proved to be another record year for The Co-operative Group.”
The Co-operative Group is one of the UK’s leading businesses and the world’s largest consumer-owned co-operative. The Group is the fifth biggest food retailer and the leading convenience store operator and The Co-operative Financial Services runs the largest “super mutual”.
Other interests include the third largest retail pharmacy chain, the number one funeral services business, Britain’s biggest farmer and a leading travel agency. The Co-operative Group employs 120,000 people, and has over 6 million members. As well as delivering on its financial and operational goals which also include various corporate social responsibility matters such as environmental awareness and global poverty, The Co-operative Group aims to deliver on its social goals, playing an active part supporting local communities and the wider world.