Co-op Reports Marketing Leading Food Sales Growth

The Co-operative Group, Britain’s biggest mutual retailer and fifth largest grocery chain, has reported soaring sales and profits for the first half of the year, buoyed by its food business.
Like-for-like food sales grew by a market-leading 7.3 per cent in the 28 weeks to July 25, surpassing the 5.7 per cent and 3.1 per cent growth recently reported by Sainsburys and Tesco respectively.
Total group revenues rose by 27.1 per cent to £6.4 billion and pre-tax profits jumped 17 per cent to £228.8 million, thanks largely to the group’s £1.6 billion acquisition and integration of the Somerfield grocery chain in March.
In the food business, sales were up 62 per cent to £1.5 billion and trading profit rose 34 per cent to £41.9m during the first six months of 2009.
Chief executive Peter Marks said Co-op Food’s strong first half performance was due to the modernisation of its stores, the group’s concentration on “value and values” and also the growing distrust in big businesses following the turmoil in the financial markets.
He said that sales of its re-launched and extended “Simply Value” range increased by almost 80 per cent year-on-year, while sales of Fairtrade products were up by 35 per cent.
“In spite of our recent success, it would be naive to think that we are immune to the recession,” he added.
“That said we are pleased with our half-year performance, the second half has started well and we look ahead to the future with renewed confidence.”