Annual results 2017 – a message from Jo Whitfield

This morning we published our annual results for 2017.

You can read our news release which talks about our work last year, the things we’ve done recently and what comes next.

Please also have a look at Steve’s message to all colleagues which includes how we’re doing across Co-op, and has news about a big expansion of our Co-op Academies Trust and a new business acquisition in Co-op Funeral and Life Planning.

Here’s how we’re doing in Co-op Food.

The numbers

We’ve had a busy and exciting year in Food and I’m really happy to share our results which highlight the fantastic contribution we’re making – you can see the headlines in this infographic.Annual Report Food A4 Infographics FINAL

View the above image as a PDF.

Like-for-like store sales remained strong at 3.4% up, ahead of the market by 1.1%.

Convenience store like-for-like sales were up 4.3% ahead of the market by 1%. We’ve delivered four years of like-for-like growth in our core convenience estate as a result of the investment we’ve made in creating award-winning food sold in modern and friendly stores.

Our sales for the year were £7,054m (2016: £7,064m). This is slightly lower compared to last year because we sold 298 smaller food stores to McColl’s Retail Group plc, and disposed of 47 stores through our normal property portfolio programme.

Underlying operating profit (which excludes any one-off items, property and business disposals and the change in value of investment properties) was in line with last year at £182m (2016: £182m), a strong performance given that this includes paying our Membership rewards.

Making an impact

There have been many highlights this year, and we’ve done things that have shown how the Co-op is different to other retailers on the high street. Our move to 100% British fresh meat supports our commitment to British Farmers and their communities, something we’ll be building on this year.

At our AGM last May our members backed our continuing commitment to Fairtrade and we’re now using Fairtrade cocoa in all our own brand products. Hopefully you tried one (or three!) of our delicious eggs and bottles of Fairtrade wine over Easter? Sales of Fairtrade increased by 12% during the year – double the market increase. In 2018 we’re switching to Fairtrade tea, banana and coffee as ingredients in our own brand products.

We’re committed to making all our food packaging 100% recyclable in the long term (we’re aiming for 80% by 2020). So far we’ve moved from 46% ‘easy to recycle’ to 71%. Our meat and fish trays are now made from only one plastic, we’ve changed the black plastic trays on our Irresistible tomatoes to card and we’ve made all our pizza bases cardboard – making these easy to recycle in the majority of local council areas and preventing 9 tonnes of plastic being dumped in landfills. We’re also trialling plastic-free tea bags and moving to 50% recycled plastic water bottles.

2017 also saw us looking for ways to make things simpler for our colleagues and our customers. We worked closely with colleagues in our shops to simplify or remove tasks that added little or no value for our customers and members. In our depots, we listened to our colleagues and improved the way we picked fresh products. We also introduced new depot systems to reduce costs and improve efficiency. In the support centre we worked with our teams to design simplified and streamlined processes, systems and ways of working. All of this helps us build for the future and free up our colleagues to do what they do best – serve our customers brilliantly! You can read more here.

Thank you – you’re amazing!

We’ve had a great year: the market remains tough but the results show we’re doing all the right things, we’re more than holding our own in the convenience sector, and we’ve certainly got lots to be proud of.

It’s thanks to all your hard work that we’ve got here. Thank you for all you’ve done to make 2017 such a successful year.

This year we’ve got a key role to play in supporting the Co-op ambition around Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities. We’ve also got a really strong plan to build on the success of 2017, bring you more fantastic products, introduce new ways to make things simpler, get closer to our customers and continue to bring the Co-op difference to life in all that we do.

Thank you!

Jo Whitfield