Co-op gross sales rise as customers keep nearer to home

Co-op store assistant Image copyright CO-OP

Grocery chain the Co-op noticed gross sales rise within the first half of the yr as prospects shopped nearer to home and ate out much less throughout the pandemic.

Like-for-like gross sales in meals, which strip out the impact of latest retailers opening, elevated by 8.8% within the six months to 24 July.

Its boss mentioned: “We are living in unprecedented times, but the response of our Co-op has been exceptional.”

Co-op expects coronavirus-related prices to hit £97m for the total yr.

Chief government Steve Murrells instructed the BBC’s Today programme that the enhance in gross sales was largely right down to “people shopping more locally during the crisis”.

“We’re finding that when lockdowns happen… the average basket size doubles, but also local deliveries are very popular.”

Mr Murrells added that 1.7 million new households had shopped at a Co-op retailer for the primary time throughout the pandemic.

Total revenues for the group elevated by 7.6% to £5.8bn for the 26 weeks to 4 July, it mentioned in its half-year outcomes.

Coronavirus prices

Driven by an “exceptional performance” in meals and wholesale buying and selling, its revenue earlier than tax was additionally up 35% at £27m compared with the identical interval final yr.

The group did, nevertheless, take successful of £54m in coronavirus-related prices, it mentioned. That was largely right down to extra retailer employees being recruited and the acquisition of non-public protecting gear (PPE) for these working in retailers.

The chain mentioned it had recruited an additional 7,000 non permanent employees to manage elevated demand from prospects.

Earlier in September, Co-op additionally introduced that it will create an extra 1,000 jobs and open 50 new shops earlier than the tip of the yr, having paused on opening any new websites throughout lockdown.

Image copyright Co-op
Image caption The Co-op grocery chain goals to open 50 new shops by the tip of 2020

On Thursday, it mentioned that it had paid out a complete of £13m in “Covid-19 ‘thank you'” bonuses to employees that had labored on the “front-line” of outlets throughout the pandemic.

Co-op additionally confirmed that it had acquired £33m in authorities assist in its first half, by furlough funds for a “limited number of colleagues” positioned on depart, in addition to enterprise charges reduction.

The group mentioned on Thursday that it now expects competitors to “intensify” within the grocery sector, however believes it stays “well-positioned”.

“The coming months and years remain uncertain, and we know our own Co-op will not be immune to the pressures the recession brings to family budgets and to local and national economies,” its chief government mentioned.