The Co-op nearly doubles profits as sales jump on Nisa takeover

The Co-operative Group nearly doubled profits in the first half of the year, recording a 10 per cent rise in sales to £5 billion

THE Co-operative Group nearly doubled profits in the first half of the year despite "increasing national uncertainty", as its takeover of Nisa bolstered sales.

The company released earnings on Friday showed the group logged a 10 per cent rise in sales to £5 billion in the six months to July 7.

Pre-tax profits surge to £26m to £14m a year earlier, which the Coop Group said reflected some one off items and "good business performance", the Coop said.

Strong food sales growth was linked to its offers around the World Cup, as well as benefits from the acquisition of convenience store business and wholesaler Nisa.

That takeover helped wholesale revenues reach £269m.

Like-for-like food retail sales were up 4.4 per cent, with the Co-op now having logged 18 consecutive quarter of like-for-like sales growth.

Co-op non-executive chairman Allan Leighton said the growth comes despite a tough trading environment.

"Against a backdrop of increasing national uncertainty, I'm pleased that the Co-op has continued to perform successfully during the first half of the year," he said.

"It is in these times of volatility that our way of doing business, which gives back to our members and the communities we operate in, becomes even more important.

"These results show that we are growing our business and increasing the positive impact we can have on our members and the causes they care about in their communities."

The Co-op was formally given the all-clear for its £137.5m takeover of Nisa earlier this year, helping expand its wholesale supply to over 7,700 stores.

By the end of this year, the Co-op will supply 850 of its own branded product lines to Nisa partners.

It also cheered performance of its funeral and life planning business, which saw revenues rise 5 per cent to £174m.

That was linked in part to a higher death rate in the first quarter.

Co-op is now focused on slashing the cost of its funerals as sector competition for budget services ramps up.

The mutual's funeral division is reducing the cost of its "simple funeral" by £100 to £1,895, and by a further £200 for its 4.7 million members.

The group also benefited from the offloading of its Coop Bank business, which severed ties with the group last year.

The Co-op announced on Friday its acquisition of healthcare technology start-up Dimec for an undisclosed sum.

It is the first takeover by Co-op's Ventures division - an innovation unit meant to help develop "challenger" businesses and disrupt markets that the Co-op does not currently operate in.

Dimec's technology allows patients to pair with GP surgeries and pharmacies, connet with their record and make prescription orders easier.

Tim Davies, director of Co-op Ventures, added: "The acquisition of Dimec is a core element in delivering this ambition and we'll be providing more detail early next year in terms of our of wider customer offer."

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