Lock­downs send Co-op su­per­mar­ket sales soar­ing

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Si­mon Foy

THE Co-op­er­a­tive Group ex­pects su­per­mar­ket sales to surge in the North East in the com­ing weeks af­ter new re­stric­tions for the re­gion were an­nounced.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Steve Mur­rells said lo­cal lock­downs had boosted sales in ar­eas where curbs had been placed on bars and restau­rants.

“We’d ex­pect to see a bounce up in the north-east­ern part of the coun­try in the com­ing days, and where lo­cal lock­downs have taken place – Le­ices­ter and Birm­ing­ham – we’ve seen much stronger like-for-like sales,” he said.

Wider re­stric­tions would “most def­i­nitely” lead to in­creased trad­ing at Co-op stores, Mr Mur­rells said.

Kan­tar data on Tues­day sug­gested that Co-op sales have in­creased by more than a quar­ter in ar­eas where lo­cal lock­downs have been im­posed.

It came as the re­tailer re­ported a surge in half-year sales on the back of “ex­cep­tional” food and whole­sale trad­ing dur­ing the height of the pan­demic.

To­tal rev­enues jumped by 7.6pc to £5.8bn for the 26 weeks to July 4.

Fu­neral vol­umes in­creased dra­mat­i­cally but rev­enues rose at a far lower rate due to pric­ing re­stric­tions amid the cri­sis, up just 3.5pc to £148m.

The Co-op said food rev­enues rose by 5.2pc to £3.9bn, with 9.9pc like-for­like growth in the sec­ond quar­ter.

Costs from the pan­demic, in­clud­ing re­cruit­ment and PPE, took a £54m toll and are set to hit £97m for the full year. The Co-op is also seek­ing to ex­pand its on­line de­liv­ery ca­pac­ity af­ter such sales in­creased four­fold in the pe­riod.

It has made a com­mit­ment to invest £130m in 50 new shops, ex­pand­ing 15 and re­vamp­ing an­other 100, cre­at­ing 1,000 jobs be­fore the end of the year.

Change of gear

Au­to­mo­tive gi­ant Volk­swa­gen is con­sid­er­ing of­fload­ing its lux­ury per­for­mance mar­que Bu­gatti to Ri­mac, the Croa­t­ian elec­tric car man­u­fac­turer. The po­ten­tial agree­ment be­tween the pair could see the Ger­man com­pany take a stake in the en­larged busi­ness. How­ever, both com­pa­nies de­clined to com­ment yes­ter­day.

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