Elaine Watson
The Co-operative Group is exploring the possibility of developing a franchise scheme following the acquisition of Alldays, which has 30 independent franchisees.
Co-operative Group chief operating officer Malcolm Hepworth said Alldays' franchised stores gave the group the chance to see how franchising worked, and whether it could fit in with a co-operative business model.
As the society unveiled a 52% leap in full-year operating profit at its food retail division, Hepworth said he had been studying franchising schemes such as Budgens Local, and was keen to explore any opportunities to drive more volume through the CRTG buying group. "Alldays and other acquisitions are obviously driving more business, but longer term I have to think, how do I keep the buying group volumes growing?"
The acquisition of Alldays had provided a major boost for CRTG own label suppliers, added Hepworth, but there were also big opportunities for some of Alldays' smaller branded suppliers to get access to CRTG. "We can offer an opportunity to get brands seen in stores right across the country."
Like-for-like sales at Welcome c-stores in the year to January 11 outperformed the market at 6% ­ extremely encouraging figures given the slowdown in the market, said Hepworth.
Market Town stores were up 3.9% on a like-for-like basis.
Pre-exceptional operating profit jumped 52% to £69.5m at the society's food retail division on sales up 9% to £2.6bn.

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