By Steve Murrells – Co-op CEO
With so much happening right now it seems odd to be looking back to last year. In normal times we’d be looking at our past performance to give us a good sense of how things are going right now. But as we all know, these are far from normal times. It’s still important that we pause for a moment to reflect on our 2019 achievements as we announce our annual results.
Click here to see some of the highlights of your fantastic work.
As you can see, we continued to create great value for our members by running our businesses well and supporting our local communities. And all this work in 2019 laid the foundations for the incredible community action we’ve taken in response to the virus. We’ve published our annual Sustainability Report which describes some of these achievements in more detail.
Our underlying profit before tax for 2019 was £50 million. This is the profit measure which gives the clearest indication of the strength of our commercial operation. On a like-for-like basis, it’s £17 million up on 2018, that’s a 50% increase, largely reflecting a great year for our Food business.
You can read more in the news release we’ve issued this morning.
All of you have been responding amazingly to the huge and rapid changes in both home and work life brought about by the pandemic. While we’re all playing our part in getting the nation through this, our Funeralcare and Food colleagues in particular have coped with enormous pressures and have risen to the challenge with incredible strength. I don’t underestimate the importance of your own families in supporting you through all of this. I’m grateful for their understanding and encouragement so that we can continue to meet the needs of our members and customers.
Helping our communities
There’s no family or community untouched by the impact of the virus but some are certainly being hit harder than others. That’s why we’re helping to make sure food banks stay stocked, and why we brought forward our payout to local community causes. It’s why we’re ensuring our Co-op Academy students don’t go hungry by providing Food vouchers, and why we’ve created a Funeral Hardship Fund to make sure funeral poverty won’t get in the way of people saying goodbye to their loved ones. And we’re using our new Co-operate platform to connect volunteers to vulnerable people – keeping communities connected. All these actions are making a difference when it matters most.
The total donations made by members and customers to FareShare and our new Coronavirus hardship fund had reached nearly £640,000 by last night. That figure will already provide more than 1.7 million meals to people in need. That kind of generosity proves we really are all in this together!
To get all of this community support in place in double quick time has been a huge effort and I want to thank the colleagues who’ve been working flat-out to get this done.
Things are going to be tough for a while yet. We know the economy’s taking a massive hit and all the indications are that we’ll be facing a recession. Now more than ever before, we need to work as efficiently and cost consciously as we can to make sure we can keep doing the right thing for you, for our members and our communities.
This virus has proven that we’re at our best when we come together and we look out for each other.
Thank you again for all you’re doing.
Chief Executive, Co-op Group