His comments come after the group announced that it is to sell 100 poorly performing stores, mostly from the chains it bought in 2002 and 2003 (The Grocer, August 13, p8).
Harling told a members’ conference, organised by the South East Progressive Co-operators, that the co-op was working to improve profitability by cutting costs in most departments above store level. This included plans to axe 600 head office jobs.
“The business is going through some short-term problems, brought about in part by the stresses and strains that the acquisitions put on the infrastructure, systems and logistics of our food business,” said Harling.
“But the decisions were the correct ones to take because these opportunities don’t come along very often and we are now putting things right.”