The Co-op gives £4m to good causes in Yorkshire

Adrian Woods, operations manager of community initiative OnTrak, which helps local teenagers gain work experience in West Yorkshire, received 4,235 through the Co-ops Local Community Fund
Adrian Woods, operations manager of community initiative OnTrak, which helps local teenagers gain work experience in West Yorkshire, received 4,235 through the Co-ops Local Community Fund
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The Co-operative Group has hailed a year of community initiatives after it returned £79m to members and local projects.

The Co-operative Group has hailed a year of community initiatives after it returned £79m to members and local projects.

In Yorkshire, the Co-op has supported 1,767 local causes through its community fund, giving back £3,965,000 - an average of £3,000 per local cause.

This money has been used to help Harrogate Hospital and Community Charity, Ilkley Pre-school Playgroup and Project Hope Leeds, which supports vulnerable families from some of the most disadvantaged communities in Leeds. Community initiative OnTrak, which helps local teenagers gain work experience based in West Yorkshire, received £4,235 through the Co-op’s Local Community Fund.

The Co-op Pension Scheme announced plans to invest £50m in social and affordable housing. In Yorkshire, the fund has already exchanged on developments in Chickenley (near Dewsbury), Upperthong (near Huddersfield) and Stocksmoor (near Huddersfield). This investment will result in an initial 71 rent to buy houses.

Allan Leighton, Co-op chair, said: "We are ensuring that our business success goes hand in hand with increasing levels of positive social impact.

"We are in tune with the needs of our members across Yorkshire and throughout the rest of the UK and are delivering wide-ranging and innovative solutions, to make their communities stronger."

Mr Leighton was speaking as the Co-op announced soaring sales in 2018 with like-for-like food revenues rising an impressive 4.4 per cent at a time when its bigger rivals are struggling to get growth of more than 1 per cent.

The results mark the fifth consecutive year of growth and were boosted by the acquisition of Nisa convenience stores which completed just under a year ago. Following the deal, the Co-op now stocks products in Nisa stores.

The Co-op said total revenue jumped 14 per cent to £10.2bn in the 52 weeks to January 5, driven by the addition of Nisa and a strong performance in the food business.

Pre-tax profit from continuing operations jumped 27 per cent to £93m. Underlying pre-tax profits were flat at £43m.

Steve Murrells, chief executive of the Co-op, said the integration of Nisa had been a "game-changer" which significantly expanded the group's food footprint.

Thomas Brereton, retail analyst at GlobalData, said: "Despite the external pressures facing food retailers during 2018, Co-op’s acquisition of Nisa drove total group revenue up 14 per cent to £10.2bn.

"But even through the distortion created by the acquisition, Co-op’s core store network has continued to blossom throughout the year. A 4.4 per cent increase in food like-for-like sales marks its fifth consecutive year of growth in this metric, particularly impressive in comparison to the struggles of the major players with a convenience segment such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s."

The Co-op has introduced the UK's first compostable carrier bags as part of its plan to eradicate hard-to-recycle plastics within five years

Mr Murrells said: "We continue to demonstrate that the Co-op is a good business that does good for society as we lead on issues including single-use plastics, funeral affordability and social housing.

"It is this determination to make a positive difference for all of our stakeholders which will ensure that we fulfil our ambition to build a stronger Co-op and stronger communities."