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Co-op growth driven by strong food sales & Nisa acquisition

The Co-operative Group's Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities strategy has delivered solid growth in its interim results for the 26 weeks to 7 July 2018.

Total group sales rose by 10% to £5bn, driven by a strong food sales performance and the acquisition of Nisa.

Group Profit before tax increased to £26m (2017: £14m) and Group Underlying Profit before tax rose to £10m (2017: £3m), this after £35m of reward is generated for Co-op members and their communities.

Food Retail like-for-like sales were up by 4.4% and core convenience like-for-like sales rose by 5.1%, marking the 18th consecutive quarter of like-for-like sales growth.

Total Food sales were up 3% to £3.6bn, reflecting strong sales growth driven by a market leading offer for the World Cup with underlying food operating profit up 23% at £80m. Co-op Food also enjoys a stellar summer performance boosted by the World Cup 'Pizza & Beer' deal, with over 180 pizzas sold for every minute of football played.

Co-op's presence has been strengthened through the acquisition of Nisa and the Co-op now supplies food to over 7,700 stores. Wholesale sales stood at £269m, following this acquisition. By the end of 2018, the group will supply 850 Co-op own-brand product lines to our Nisa partners.

The company opened 45 new food stores during the period, and £50m was invested to improve prices across 100s of everyday products.

Also, an exclusive partnership was made with Live Nation, which saw Co-op reached 200,000 festival goers with its pop-up shops.

Industry CO2 shortages failed to impact beer, wine and spirit sales, which were up 4.8% with a bottle of champagne sold every minute.

Pay in aisle technology trials have been introduced, along with small trials being held with Deliveroo in Greater Manchester, and self-driving robots in Milton Keynes to deliver products to shopper’s homes.

Steve Murrells, Chief Executive of the Co-op, (pictured) said, “We’re moving forward at pace with our Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities plan, which we set out at the beginning of the year. We know that in order to make a difference, we have to be commercially successful and our performance in the first half shows that we’re delivering on that ambition.

'Our investment in products, price and distribution channels has seen us grow revenue, profit and member value in the first six months.'

Allan Leighton, Independent Non-Executive Chair of the Co-op, said, “Against a backdrop of increasing national uncertainty, I’m pleased that the Co-op has continued to perform successfully during the first half of the year. It is in these times of volatility that our way of doing business, which gives back to our members and the communities we operate in, becomes even more important.

'We’ve got exciting plans to continue transforming our Co-op to make it even more competitive, relevant and innovative in both existing and new markets.'