By Steve Murrells – Co-op Group CEO

Today we’ve announced our Interim results for 2021. We expected, and had planned for, 2021 to be a challenging year. And you’ll see when you look at the numbers that it’s pretty difficult to compare like for like accurately against 2020, as the impact of the pandemic meant consumer behaviours changed and our businesses therefore traded very differently. However, when we look back to 2019, it paints a much better picture of progress with sales and profits up.

Every year, day in, day out, we deliver magic, and make a difference. And 2021 is no different. If you haven’t already read it yet, I would urge you to take some time out and read the 2021 Interim report. There is an impressive amount of Co-operation happening in communities all across the UK, in all of our businesses.

You may also have seen we announced today our intention to invest into e-commerce for our Food business, and a very exciting new partnership with Amazon allowing Prime customers to do their Co-op food shop online, with same day delivery and two hour time slots.

Plus, we’ve confirmed we’ll be extending our partnership with Starship Technologies, meaning more Co-op delivery robots, allowing delivery of groceries in as little as 20 minutes, and a dramatic reduction in carbon emissions. By the end of this year we’ll increase from 200 to 500 robots, and bring them to five new towns and cities, including Cambridgeshire, and extending the service into the North of England.

Jo, Shirine and I will be hosting an event on Yammer later this afternoon, if you have access, and the time, I hope you’ll join us. We’re looking forward to answering your questions.

Some highlights from the first half of 2021

For our colleagues we’ve invested £17m to bring those that were under Real Living Wage in line with this. Wellbeing will always be at the heart of how we support colleagues, and the launch of our new Pregnancy loss policy is a fantastic example of this. And we will never stop championing for Safer Colleagues and Safer Communities.

For our members we’ve given more than £15m of value on membership cards, and just yesterday we went live with another great £5 off £15 member offer, supported by a fantastic TV campaign.

For communities we’ve distributed £3.5m to our 4,500 local causes supported by our Local Community Fund and seen the launch of our Hubbub partnership, feeding and empowering people by providing community fridges.

And last week we launched our Young Person’s campaign, highlighting the affect the pandemic has had on Young People.

And in the first half of the year, our amazing colleagues, members and customers together raised more than £2.8m for our charity partners Mind, SAMH and Inspire, a figure that we know has now just topped an amazing £6m.

We’re leading the way on many initiatives to make our planet fairer too. Our ten-point climate plan, which we launched in May, sets out our commitment to doing this. And this year we’ve seen some great progress, we’ve launched soft plastics re-cycling in every UK community, we continue to be the leading Fairtrade retailer, Co-op insurance have celebrated 15 years since launching the first carbon offsetting insurance policy, Funeralcare celebrate ten years of carbon neutrality, and Co-op Power continues to support businesses by providing sustainable power solutions.

So, thankyou…

We can’t do this of course, without a great team of leaders and colleagues. And I am utterly grateful and thank each and every one of our colleagues for what you do. No matter what your role is in our Co-op, you play such an important role in making things fairer. Fairer for you, our colleagues, for members and communities, and for the planet. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

We have achieved a lot, and as we face into the final quarter of the year we have a role to play in helping the UK build back better. And it will take all of us to do this. We know that for many reasons, it’s not going to be an easy ride.

Thank you, for all that you have done, and I know you will continue to do.

Have a great day and stay safe.

For more information about our results, please read our infographic here.

You can read more from Jo, Sam, Charles and Caoilionn below:

Jo Whifield – Food
Sam Tyer – Funeralcare
Caoilionn Hurley – Legal Services
Charles Offord – Insurance