By Steve Murrells, Co-op CEO

Today we’re publishing our interim report showing our progress in the first half of the year. There’s a full infographic available too.

Financial headlines

Our turnover was £5.4 billion, an increase of 12% from half-year 2018, reflecting the full contribution of our Nisa business and continued strong Food performance. We’ve now had 22 consecutive quarters of like-for-like sales growth in Food, total sales were up by 3% and like-for-like sales up by 1.7%, an even more impressive performance when you consider that last year we had the FIFA World cup and a very long hot summer.

Overall, profit before tax was £25 million, but on a like-for-like basis, it was £30 million, down £14 million from 2018. This mainly reflects a weaker performance in our Funeralcare business.

Our Funeralcare business has had a challenging year with a fall in sales and profit. We’ve also seen unprecedented change in the market. So we’re re-setting and adapting our business for future success. Funeral sales were also impacted by an unexpected 10% fall in the death rate. We know there’s more to do and are meeting these challenges head-on. We plan to reposition and grow the business by focusing on exceptional care, improved value, more innovation, and greater choice for families, making it easier for them to get the support they need and expect from our Co-op.

*Our headline business performance figures are difficult to compare with last year because of a significant change to financial reporting regulations. So in the financial pages of the report we’ve included additional like-for-like numbers to show how the figures would look if the reporting changes hadn’t come into force. In broad terms though, our results for the first half are in line with our plans.

It’s what we do

As you know, it’s a strong Co-op that enables us to create stronger, more connected communities. There are lots of examples of how we’ve achieved this through the first half of this year, in particular through our Endangered Spaces campaign where we’re aiming to protect 2,000 community spaces by the end of 2022.

Meanwhile, we’ve strengthened our Safer Colleagues and Safer Communities campaign ensuring that the voices of over 600 colleagues who’ve experienced violent crime while doing their job were heard by the Home Office. Earlier this week our Food CEO, Jo Whitfield, launched new academic research in Parliament, which explored the impact of verbal and physical abuse against shop workers and the underlying reasons why offenders carry out violent acts. Through new partnerships with community based charities, Steel Warriors and the Damilola Taylor Trust, we’re also helping to tackle the root causes of violent crime.

We also know that climate change, and the use of plastics in particular, continues to be a concern for our members. By 2020 we’ll have eliminated the most difficult to recycle plastic packaging and all single-use plastic in our own-brand packaging will be gone by 2023. And we’ve committed to reducing all our direct Green House Gas emissions by a further 50% by 2025 in line with United Nation’s scientific guidance.

We know we need to shout much louder and prouder about the great things we’re doing. Through our national advertising this year we’ve been explaining how choosing Co-op means choosing to do good in your community and around the world. It’s been great to see #ItsWhatWeDo all over Twitter!


Like all big businesses, we’ve continued with our Brexit planning and we know we need to be ready for all eventualities. If a negotiated withdrawal from the EU doesn’t take place at the end of October and we leave the EU without a deal, we expect some disruption to our supply chain, at least in the short term.

A top priority for us right now is making sure our colleagues from the EU feel welcome at what must be an unsettling time for them. We’re also offering practical help to colleagues applying for permission to remain living and working here.

As we pass the half-way mark of the year, we don’t underestimate the challenges we face in the second half, most notably Brexit and the turnaround of our funerals business. Despite this, we can be pleased with our progress.

You can read updates from Jo Whitfield on Food, Mark Summerfield on Insurance, Sam Tyrer on Funeralcare and Caoilionn Hurley on Legal Services by clicking on the links.

I’m hugely thankful for your hard work and dedication to our Co-op and I’m looking forward to keeping you updated on what I know will be a busy and productive next few months.


You can access our results news release Interim Results 2019 and also a PDF version.

Join the conversation! 13 Comments

  1. also agree its about time staff got some rewards for all the hard work they do. all the constant cutting hours and still expected to do the same amount of work

  2. Funeralcare is indeed in trouble, a falling death rate, greater competition and staff turnover all contribute to the downturn in market share. Additionally after one management restructure and one impending management reshuffle, the top heavy middle management is rudder-less and offer very little support to the frontline staff.

    As the Co-op classes itself as an ethical company, how does this lie with the fact that there are some staff on an hourly rate less than the living wage?

  3. I work at Castlewood. I have previously suggested we have solar panels on the warehouse roof and/or wind turbines. there is a solar farm less than half a mile from the depot and 3 wind turbines within 2 miles so I cant see planning being an issue, surely it would add to our ‘green’ credentials???

    • Hi Steve @Castlewood, thanks for your suggestion. We’ve bought renewable electricity for many years and last year 100% of our electricity was from UK farms, including five wind farms that we directly support. We have a new depot at Biggleswade which will be fitted with solar panels, but there are currently no plans to install these at Castlewood. What are doing though is investing in energy efficiency across our Food estate. We’re installing LED lighting in both stores and depots (Castlewood will be getting theirs next year), as well as remote monitoring and controls to manage our energy use, which will help make sure we’re not using more than we need to.

  4. Food stores your food stores prices have to come down in price as what you are forgetting is that you are up against the likes of Aldi and Lidl (example why Pay over £7 for a jar of coffee) when you can get it for £4 in Aldi and lidl.

    • We’re a convenience store, not a supermarket. We’re not up against the likes of Aldi or Lidl – Convenience always comes at a premium, and I think these results show food growth is bucking the market trend

  5. There are a lot of Independent Funeral Directors around our hub 10 in total and all in a distance of 20 Miles. who are getting the funerals . that Funeral care was once getting. so that is the reason that our numbers are down. But just like Funeralcare offering choice. The General public now have more choice of funeral directors to select from.

  6. It would be nice if the CO-OP group colleagues could get a bonus, as other CO-OP society’s still get one. We are the colleagues that have help Group going from 15 minutes from going under to were we are now.
    It’s going to get busy now so everyone be safe and lets help each other.

  7. Anon
    The Labour saving ” fuel for the future ” in food has long been burnt off
    And with a black Hole to fill I predict another stressful Christmas in stores

    Its what we do

  8. Hi All ,
    Our Funeral industry is going through many big changes & in the last 12 months due to no regulations been brought into the industry as planned but more delays by the CMA
    Lots more funeral business sets ups & online funeral service companies plus many more local chapels / funeral service firms across the UK offering ultra low cost funerals & direct cremations under cutting our prices & no deposit to pay plus lower overheads etc etc
    So its not a level playing field for Funeralcare staff at the sharp end shop floor been able to do anything about , with aggressive tactics in Hull area alone towards branches & staff by these low cost companies
    Death rate is only a small part but not the over whole reason
    We need to slash our prices now to match these companies otherwise we will loose more & more families until we have no more Funeralcare
    Please come and see what is going on in our area
    Many thanks & kind regards
    Funeral Director Hull

  9. Would be great for front line staff to recieve a small bonus if not this year then next because looking back over past 5 years we’ve implemented a whole range of changes and for the best part it’s affected the customer team members most ( in my opinion ) who have risen to the challenge of change.
    Fantastic news on this year’s interim results.
    Tony Brennan CTM

    • Totally agree the colleagues in store bear the brunt of most of the changes and are expected to carry on regardless giving great customer service.

Comments are closed.


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