Co-operative invests £4m in region as part of shift to convenience

The Sprowston Road Co-Op store in Norwich. Picture: Jason Bye

The Sprowston Road Co-Op store in Norwich. Picture: Jason Bye - Credit: © Jason Bye/ UNP 0845 600 7737

A supermarket, funerals and insurance group has seen profits rise after investing in its convenience food estate – including £4m in Norfolk.

The Co-operative Group opened four food stores in Norfolk in 2017, at a cost of £3.8m, taking its number of stores in the county to 12.

The mutual posted pre-tax profits of 72m for 2017 with its grocery arm seeing like-for-like sales up 3.4% while its convenience revenues were up 4.3%.

New Co-op food stores were opened in Sprowston Road in Norwich, Cromer, Hingham and Hemsby and are part of a drive towards the convenience market.

The group also has retail outlets in Aylsham, Brundall, Dereham, Hopton, Snettisham and Earlham Road and Dereham Road in Norwich.

In 2017 the Co-op handed out more than £65,000 to 40 Norfolk community projects through its local community scheme.

Steve Murrells, chief executive of the Co-op, said: 'Our results show that we are making good progress, but we want to accelerate that progress, in order that we can do more for the communities we serve.

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'I recognise that customers have a choice, but I want them to increasingly choose the Co-op, not only because what we offer is good, but knowing that we will spend the profits on making a difference to their communities.

'We're delighted with our performance, but we're hungry for more and ready to create the Co-op of the future.'

The group offloaded its Co-operative Bank division which has helped it to swing back from a £132m loss last year when it wrote off the value of the bank.

As part of its plans for investment in convenience shopping, the group has agreed a deal to acquire Nisa Retail for £137.5m and wants to open 100 stores in 2018.

Subject to regulatory approval the Co-op will also become the exclusive wholesale supplier to Costcutter Supermarkets Group (CSG) and the 2,200 Costcutter, Mace, Simply Fresh, Supershop and Kwiksave convenience stores across its network from this spring.

Chairman Allan Leighton said: 'With profits up 25%, debt down and membership up by more than 1.2 million since we launched our new scheme, we are stronger than ever before and ready to create a new, modern Co-op that is fit for the future.'