The co-op posted a 50% increase in underlying profits, driven by strong growth in its grocery business.
The group’s total revenue for the 52 weeks to January 4 increased 7% to £ 10.9 billion, driven by the continued strong performance of Food and the annualization of its wholesale acquisition by Nisa.
Revenue from its food business increased 3% to £ 7.5 billion, with like-for-like sales up 1.9%.
The co-op said this increase in grocery sales means it has now seen six years of comparable food income growth.
It opened 79 new stores, remodeled 152 stores and expanded 10 during the year, with a £ 342million investment in its food business.
Like-for-like wholesale revenues grew 1.1%, outperforming the market by 1.4% as Nisa attracted 94 new partners to the business.
The underlying pre-tax profit of the Group (excluding the impact of the adoption of IFRS 16 accounting standards) increased by 50% to 50 million pounds compared to 33 million pounds last year.
This increase in profitability is mainly driven by underlying feeder operating income of £ 283m, which was £ 235m on a like-for-like basis excluding IFRS 16, compared to £ 204m in 2018.
Underlying profit before tax, including IFRS 16, fell to £ 31million.
The cooperative also said pre-tax profit for 2018 has been restated, reduced by £ 10million, following the identification of some historical accounting errors within Nisa.
“The cooperative made further financial progress until 2019, showing that the cooperation works,” said CEO Steve Murrells. “Although we didn’t know it at the time, this performance prepared us well to withstand the impact of the Covid-19 crisis and enable us to support the communities in which we operate.
“No part of our business has been untouched by the virus outbreak and we have played a vital role in communities across the UK. Our food business has helped feed the nation and our funeral colleagues have been there for families when they needed them most. All of this work will continue and I could not be more proud of our people who have delivered their work – day in and day out. “
During the year, the cooperative donated £ 76million to members and local causes – £ 59million to members directly and £ 17million to 4,400 local causes chosen by members and colleagues.
Over £ 260million has been paid out to members and communities over the past three years.
The group now has 4.6 million active members after successfully focusing on recruiting younger members, with 36% of new members aged 35 or under.
Regarding the coronavirus outbreak, Co-op said its catering and funeral staff have been recognized as key workers, with 56,000 frontline colleagues rewarded with a £ 150 bonus and a day’s vacation additional, with a total value of over £ 13million.
It also created temporary jobs for more than 7,000 unemployed people when normal workplaces closed, with all positions being filled within seven days.
The epidemic has created an “uncertain” outlook for 2020.
The cooperative said it expects the additional costs associated with Covid-19 to exceed £ 200million, which will be partially offset by increased food sales and lower rates of business announced by the Chancellor.
“In this context, we are clear on the strategy to ensure sustainable growth for the cooperative and continue to add value for members and for communities,” he said.
Allan Leighton, independent non-executive chairman of the cooperative, added, “The cooperative relies deeply on our values of business responsibility and community concern to play our role in the response to Covid-19. Our commitment is to do all we can to help our members, clients and colleagues in the weeks and months to come. It is already clear that Covid-19 will have profound consequences for the UK and global economy and our members and customers of the cooperative will not be immune.
“In this context, our results last year show that we are in a good position to continue to play our role. At the co-op, however, we measure our success differently.
“For the future, we believe that cooperative enterprises and cooperative working methods will be even more necessary in the future than they were in the past.