Co-op Group continues progress and returns to healthcare sector

Steve Murrells

The Co-op Group outlined a strong first half today, with sales and profits improving, and a return to the health sector.

In the 26 weeks to July 7, the Manchester-based group saw sales jump 10% to £5bn, driven by a strong food sales performance, and the acquisition of Nisa.

Group pre-tax profit rose from £14m to £26m, after paying £35m of rewards for Co-op members and their communities.

And today Co-op announced the acquisition of Dimec, a healthcare technology platform, which marks the group’s return into the healthcare sector, which it said provides the building blocks for a future digitally-enabled healthcare service for its members and customers.

Chief executive Steve Murrells said today: “We’re moving forward at pace with our Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities plan, which we set out at the beginning of the year.

“We know that in order to make a difference we have to be commercially successful and our performance in the first half shows that we’re delivering on that ambition.

“Our investment in products, price and distribution channels has seen us grow revenue, profit and member value in the first six months.”

He added: “We are also back to responding quickly and decisively to the issues which affect our members and customers.

“Funeral affordability is clearly an issue affecting many and our guarantee not to be beaten on price re-affirms our commitment, as market-leader, to also lead the market.

“Furthermore, our acquisition of Dimec allows us to accelerate the development of our healthcare proposition, and provides the digital platform required to help customers in the future to conveniently access and link their healthcare needs, including interacting with their NHS GP.”

Allan Leighton, independent non-executive chair of the Co-op, said: “Against a backdrop of increasing national uncertainty, I’m pleased that the Co-op has continued to perform successfully during the first half of the year.

“It is in these times of volatility that our way of doing business, which gives back to our members and the communities we operate in, becomes even more important.

“These results show that we are growing our business and increasing the positive impact we can have on our members and the causes they care about in their communities.”

He said: “We’ve got exciting plans to continue transforming our Co-op to make it even more competitive, relevant and innovative in both existing and new markets.

“We’ll continue to grow our current businesses and through our Ventures team we’ll move into new areas where we can deliver even more value for our members and their communities.”