co op

The Co-operative Group’s food business has reported a 0.4% increase in full-year like for likes.

Total food sales fell from £7.24bn to £7.09bn in the year to 3 January, due to the continued disposal of larger stores and falling fuel prices.

However, underlying operating profits rose by 1.5% to £251m thanks to the society’s ongoing True North strategy, which saw it make cost savings of £93m.

The society said it had seen success from True North, with like-for-like sales in its core convenience estate up 3.2% as a result of improved stores, ranges, availability, prices and service.

It added it had lowered prices across 40 categories during the year, with the price of many products falling by as much as 20%. It said it would continue to roll out its price programme.

The Co-op’s total business recorded group sales of £9.4bn, down from £9.7bn in 2013 following disposals including its farming and pharmacy businesses. It recorded a net profit of £216m.

“A significant element of our 2014 profit relates to one-off disposal gains,” said The Co-op Group CEO Richard Pennycook. “Without these we would, at best, have broken even.”