The Manchester based group returned to profit last year with sales up and debt “significantly reduced”, in a marked turnaround from the past few turbulent years.
The Group announced profits before tax of £72m compared to a 2016 loss of £132m, as the group reported a strong business performance in 2017.
Its members had a good year as well, with rewards of £74m generated as members received £61m in personal rewards as well as £13m earned for over 8,000 community projects.
Active membership increased by 15% to 4.6 million with total joining since its member relaunch reaching 1.2 million.
The group also announced that 200 Member Pioneers have bee. recruited in new roles designed to strengthen communities around Co-op outlets.
The Group also announced a new plan in place to create the Co-op of the future, driving growth by creating a more commercial Co-op and sharing the greater value created with members and their communities.
Underpinning that plan the group says it will have a clearer focus on serving customers and members, a greater focus on convenience and relevance, with market-leading products and services at competitive prices and will be venturing in new markets with agile, capital-light, digital-first approach to disrupting markets.
Steve Murrells, Chief Executive of the Co-op, said:
“Today’s results show how much progress we have made. All our businesses have performed well and we have increased profits and reduced debt, while continuing to invest for colleagues, members and customers. The success we are enjoying shows that the Co-op’s difference really resonates today – a different ownership model and a different approach to business, based on returning profits to our members and their communities.
“We’re delighted with our performance, but we’re hungry for more and ready to create the Co-op of the future. Whether it’s in our existing business areas or through new ventures, we want to make the Co-op ever more competitive, relevant and innovative. That is why we are launching the Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities plan. To really succeed as a Co-op we need to be even more successful commercially and our community efforts need to be concentrated on the things that matter to people. We are going to deliver more Co-op products and services to more people throughout the country and that is what will really allow us to spread our difference.
“We know there are challenges ahead, but we are confident that with the support of our colleagues and our members, the strength of our brand and continued investment in our businesses we will achieve our goals.”
Allan Leighton, Independent Non-Executive Chair of the Co-op, 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. As we do that, we will remain true to our social purpose and continue to make the right decisions and campaign on the big issues where business really should have a voice.
“It is vital that our Co-op continues to innovate and be relevant to meet the changing needs of our stakeholders. The plans we have in place to do this are rightly challenging. We have much to do, but we are confident in our ability to deliver our ambition and create an even stronger Co-op.”