ONLY a handful of the 600-plus Alldays stores purchased by the Co-operative Group last year are likely to be disposed of in the long term, says Chief Operating Officer (Retail) Malcolm Hepworth.
Mr Hepworth told a recent conference of Co-op Group senior managers that out of around 50 former Alldays stores which were originally identified as being either too close to an existing Co-op store or were larger than an established Co-op outlet that no more than a dozen of those will have to be decided up on.
He said: "As long as they are making a contribution, which they are at the moment, then they're still in the portfolio for at least the next couple of years. Then we'll try to either consolidate that store into a Co-op store or consolidate a Co-op store into an Alldays store.
"The integration of the two businesses will be a complex and difficult task, but we have an integration programme that is built on very solid ground, which has already delivered very detailed and robust plans for change.
"The next three months are critical to the success of the programme. In that time a great deal of work needs to be completed on:
? Systems and process integration
? The people issues arising from the head office run-down
? The range and promotional integration
? The re-negotiation of terms with suppliers.
"The completion of those tasks will deliver significant benefits right across the business ? hard work but very exciting times for all of the team involved in the integration process."
Managers heard that Alldays is already making a profit, Mr Hepworth told them: "Alldays made a very positive contribution of £ 1.9 million to the bottom line between acquisition and year-end. This performance has continued into 2003 with profit in line with budget after the first few periods."
However, he warned that there will be massive changes in the Alldays stores. He said that along with the Dundee depot closing the consultation process surrounding the run-down of the head office in Eastleigh, near Southampton, has been completed ? a decision on its future is expected shortly.
Mr Hepworth told the audience: "There will ultimately be a single head office with integrated head office functions in Manchester."