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Co-op profits dropped by almost 50% in H1

The Co-operative Group saw profits drop by almost 50% in the six months to July, as the firm’s funerals business took a hit from an “unexpected” drop in the number of deaths.

Profit before tax reduced to £25m for the period, compared with £44m for the same period last year.

Profits at the group’s funeral arm plummeted by over half, profits for H1 dropped to £13m compared with £28m last year. The drop was attributed to an “unexpected” 10% drop in the number of deaths. Revenue at the Co-op Funeralcare also dropped by 6%.

CEO Steve Murrells said the firm was now “actively repositioning” the division after funerals fell from 53,213 this time last year to 48,423 in its latest half-year.

The fall in profits is in-spite of a 50% increase in food profit for the year, up to £95m, compared with £80m last year. The food arm of the business has now recorded 22 consecutive quarters of growth in its sales.

Revenue also rose by 12% to £5.4bn in part down to strong food sales and Co-op’s recent acquisition of Nisa convenience store chain.

Murrells said: “We’ve enjoyed another good six months where the strength of our business has led to a further £35m of value being generated for our members and their communities.

“Our food business continues to perform strongly in a highly competitive market and has now recorded 22 consecutive quarters of like-for-like sales growth. As our largest business, it is providing the fuel for our growth in terms of member value and community impact.”

Some £29m was also handed down to its members, alongside £6m to 4,000 local causes, as group net debt rose from £714m in January to £784m.

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