The Co-op, which bought retail/wholesale mutual Nisa last November, plans to make further inroads into the convenience sector with the announcement that it is to open 100 new convenience stores this year; launch initiatives to lower food prices; and broaden its product ranges as part of its new ‘Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities’ strategic plan.
The news came as the group reported a 25% increase in underlying pre-tax profit to £65m in 2017, while group revenues remained unchanged at £9.5bn for the 12-month period.
Food like-for-like (LFL) sales were up 3.4% in 2017, while core convenience like-for-like sales rose by 4.3%, with four consecutive years of LFL sales growth now delivered. Reported food sales were flat at £7.1bn, reflecting the impact of its strategy to close larger stores.
In addition, its wholesale sales to independent societies rose 7% in the 12-month period to £1.7bn.
Steve Murrells, chief executive of the Co-op, said: “We’re delighted with our performance, but we’re hungry for more and ready to create the Co-op of the future. Whether it’s in our existing business areas or through new ventures, we want to make the Co-op ever more competitive, relevant and innovative. That is why we are launching the Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities plan.
“To really succeed as a Co-op we need to be even more successful commercially and our community efforts need to be concentrated on the things that matter to people. We are going to deliver more Co-op products and services to more people throughout the country and that is what will really allow us to spread our difference,” Murrells added.
The group has already launched initiatives to lower prices and broaden its offer, including: £50m investment to reduce prices, expansion of its store estate, and pay in the aisles pilot under way.