The Co-operative Group has just chalked up sales records for two consecutive months following on from strong first half results.

Chief operating officer for retail Malcolm Hepworth said: “The hot summer helped drive sales. Periods 7 and 8 [July and August] were the best that I have ever known.”

First-half results showed like-for-like sales up 4% for the 24 weeks to June 28. Turnover was up 27% to £1.4bn, with strong growth from the society’s Welcome c-stores and market town stores.

It was supplemented by the 600 Alldays stores acquired last October, 75 of which were later sold on to other co-op societies (The Grocer, September 20, p9).

Profit before exceptionals was up 75% to £45.8m, including a £6.3m contribution from the Alldays estate. Hepworth said he was pleased the society had maintained its record of steady growth and out-performing the market. “We are taking more money and we are keeping costs under control.”

He said the conversion of former Alldays stores to the Welcome format was due to take three years but, he said, further acquisitions could affect the timetable as he was ready with the necessary money to buy more chains.

He added: “To keep leadership we require more acquisitions.”

The society is also preparing for the first conversions of the Balfour stores it acquired in July. This will include a new C TN format which is a smaller variant on the Welcome stores. Hepworth said: “We need to see how the CTNs perform and whether we can get a sensible return.”
John Wood