THE UK’s biggest two retail societies, the Co-op Group and Midlands Co-op, have reported a successful festive season with increased food sales in each case.
The Group announced its eighth successive quarter of like-for-like food growth, with sales over the Christmas and New Year period up 3.4 per cent, but trade in Group food stores overall for the three weeks ending January 5th were up 5.2 per cent and totalled more than £275 million.
And at Midlands Society, total retail sales rose by 5.1 per cent with food sales increasing by 5.6 per cent in the eight-week period up to January 6th.
For the Group, the main business highlights include:
• Record sales of £24 million on December 24th
• Like-for-like sales over the three weeks to January 5th up 3.4 per cent overall and 6.2 per cent in convenience stores
• Like-for-like sales over the 13 weeks to January 5th up 3.3 per cent and six per cent for convenience stores
• Continued strong performance in rebranded Co-operative Food stores — over the same period sales were up 12 per cent in refitted convenience stores and up 11 per cent in the five new format supermarkets
• Strong progress for the second successive Christmas across new and improved Co-operative fresh and seasonal own-brand products, including British Freedom Food turkeys, and Fairtrade products .
Co-operative Group Chief Executive Peter Marks said: “Our festive sales performance demonstrates the success of our ‘good with food’ programme, especially the development of our convenience and premium ranges. This is set against declining cigarette sales and a very limited non-food offer compared to the major supermarkets.
“The results from the rebranded stores shows that our customers our enjoying the new shopping experience and this augurs well for 2008 when a further 700 stores will be re-fitted to the new brand at a cost of £200 million.”
Midlands’ other highlights included a strong performance in fresh food, up six per cent; like for like food store sales up by 2.3 per cent and a like for like increase in non-food sales of 2.7 per cent.
Tony Carroll (pictured), the society’s Retail General Manager, told the News: “I am delighted at our overall position, particularly our total food sales figures which have shown a significant increase despite sales in alcohol and tobacco being weaker than anticipated. Our sell-out of festive stock added to our success.
“Despite current high street trends, our department store performance has been encouraging, supported by strong sales of electrical goods — particularly flat screen TVs and furniture in the first week of the sales.”