Co-op to offload 300 non-convenience stores

Thu, 14 Apr 2016 | DIVISION SALE

The Co-operative Group is likely to sell off hundreds of its non-convenience stores across the UK in an effort to repair its tattered balance sheet.

The distressed retail chain is still reeling from 2013, when it reported a £2.5 billion loss for the year. The group has already offloaded its pharmacy and agricultural arms, as chief executive Richard Pennycook seeks to turn the focus back towards its core convenience store business.

The Co-operative Group has reportedly earmarked around 300 non-convenience stores from its stock of some 700 mini-supermarkets for possible sale. Sky News recently claimed that investment bank Rothschild has been drafted in to asses the situation and to seek out potential buyers.

It's not all doom and gloom for the mutual group, however, as it recently announced a 1.6 per cent rise in like-for-like food sales, with volumes rising by five per cent. Furthermore, after investing £1.25 million in improving its product lines and lowering prices, the Co-operative Group said its core convenience store business grew 3.8 per cent, which is ahead of the rest of the market.

Co-op's convenience stores are the most visited out of all the large supermarket chains in the UK, but its market share still lags behind its main competitors — it's currently in fifth position with a share of 6.1 per cent.

The Co-operative Group opened 97 brand new stores this year, refitted 264 and plans to open a further 100 stores, as well as refitting another 150. The continued investment has hit profits, which declined from £124 million in 2014 to £23 million last year.

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