The Co-operative have reported an increase in half-year sales and revenues despite a ‘challenging second half’.
The Manchester-headquartered group saw revenues increase 7.6 per cent to £5.8bn for the half-year ended July 4, up from £5.4bn the previous year.
The group put the increase down to “exceptional performances” in its food and wholesale division as revenue in food rose 5.2 per cent from £3.7bn to £3.9bn.
Funeralcare revenue increased 3.5 per cent to £148m, up from £143m in 2019, despite the 22 per cent increase in volume offset by reduced average revenue per funeral due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Group pre-tax profit was up 35 per cent from £20m in 2019 to £27m.
The Co-op said Covid-19 had caused a “significant increase in costs”, with expected costs for the full-year at £97m.
Co-op chief executive Steve Murrells said the group’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been “exceptional”.
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He said: “We’ve shown how our co-operative approach to doing business provides enhanced value for our customer-members and the communities in which they live.
“At a time of crisis, our country needs a strong and progressive Co-op and these results evidence that we are ready to deliver even more for our key stakeholders.
“Our vision of co-operating for a fairer world has taken on even greater resonance during this exceptional time, with the pandemic bringing to light inequalities and injustices which no longer feel remotely tolerable.
“Actions, however, clearly need to marry with the words, which is why we have announced four important initiatives – improvements to colleague pay and benefits; our new diversity and inclusion commitments; the creation of new routes to work and our relaunch of membership.”
During 2020, The Co-op said it has continued to focus on strengthening diversity and inclusion.
It has pledged to increase the percentage of leaders from Black, Asian or ethnic minority backgrounds from 3 per cent to 6 per cent in 2022 and 10 per cent by 2025.
Mr Murrells added: “The coming months and years remain uncertain, and we know our own Co-op will not be immune to the pressures the recession brings to family budgets and to local and national economies.
“We will continue to invest within our core businesses to ensure that our Co-op value resonates within Co-op households and local communities.”