Retailer making ‘significant investment’ in Yorkshire

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​​Co-op Funeralcare has agreed to sell its cremat​ion​ operation​s​ to Dignity ​for £43m ​as the mutual focuses on investment in its core funeral homes business.​

The Co-op said the ​sale of the ​five crematoria​, which include one in Sheffield, will not result in any redundancies.

The proceeds will be reinvested in the Co-op’s​ funeral home estate, in addition to strengthening its customer offer through the roll-out of new products and services. This forms part of ​the £1.3​bn investment being made by the Co-op Group​,​ over a three year period, to improve the products and services available to its members and the communities in which they live.

As part of the conditions of the crematoria sale, which follows a competitive bidding process, all colleagues will TUPE transfer, resulting in no planned redundancies.

Co-op’s crematoria are based in​ ​Sheffield,​ Glasgow​, ​Shropshire​, ​Staffordshire and Stockport​.

​Richard Lancaster,​ ​​m​anaging​ d​irector of Co-op Funeralcare said:​ ​“I would like to personally thank our crematoria colleagues for their ongoing professionalism and hard work in serving bereaved families. I wish them the very best for the future as they continue to provide excellent levels of service within their local communities.

“This agreement is key in allowing us to further invest in providing essential funeral services to our members and customers in communities across the UK as we have done for over 100 years.​“

He said that w​ith a limited presence in the overall market, ​the Co-op’s​ crematoria operation is a small part of our business, operating distinctly and separately from ​its​ funeral homes.

​“​The sale will enable us to invest in making our funeral home services more accessible, both in terms of our presence in new communities and by enhancing our customer proposition and services​,” he added.​

The transaction is expected to complete ​in early July for the freehold locations. Completion of the sale of the leasehold locations is conditional upon consent of the relevant local authorities​. H​owever completion on both sites is anticipated by early August.

Earlier this month the Co-op announced plans to create 250 jobs in Yorkshire by investing more than £11m in new stores and funeral homes across the region.

The Co-op, which already has 320 food stores and 94 funeral homes across the county employing around 6,800 people, plans to open up to 15 new shops, and refit 10 between now and this time next year.

In that time, it will also open a further 10 funeral homes, Richard Pennycook, the Co-op’s chief executive said. Last year, the Co-op launched a local supplier initiative which led to community retailers stocking 130 products made across the county.

The Co-op has signed up more than 50 local manufacturers and micro producers to provide its stores across Yorkshire with a wide range of locally produced items including eggs, bakery, ice cream, sweets, chutneys, pies, sausages and beer.

The local sourcing initiative is a pilot in Yorkshire, but if it proves successful it will be rolled out to other parts of the UK.

A spokesman said: “The Co-op has also continued to show its commitment and support to Yorkshire in times of trouble and difficulty. For example, when the floods hit last Christmas, Co-op Insurance opened its helpline on Boxing Day – with staff volunteering to come in and deal with new claims and provide support.

“They contacted customers within 250 metres of areas at risk of flooding to see if they needed help. Senior managers also made home visits to those affected.”

Yorkshire has also been an area for Co-op investment in other areas. Co-op Legal Services recently acquired Sheffield based Collective Legal Solutions, which employs 20 people and has around 100 self-employed associates.