Belfast Telegraph

Co-op back in profit as work starts on rebuild

By Graeme Evans

Co-op has posted a return to profit but warned that its members will have to wait until 2018 for a resumption in dividend payments.

The troubled mutual, which last year reported a loss of £2.3bn due to the near collapse of its banking arm, benefited from the sale of its farms and pharmacy operations as it posted a net profit of £216m for 2014.

Without the disposals the Co-op would, at best, have broken even, chief executive Richard Pennycook said.

He added that the Co-op had completed the rescue phase of its turnaround but said that a resumption of dividend payments was unlikely until after the rebuilding phase completes at the end of 2017.

Mr Pennycook said: "The hard work of rebuilding the Co-operative Group for the next generation, and restoring it to its rightful place at the heart of communities up and down the UK, is now under way."

The Co-op is the UK's largest mutual business, owned by more than 8m members. It is the UK's fifth biggest food retailer with almost 2,800 local, convenience and medium-sized stores. Co-op's debt reduced to £808m from £1.4bn a year earlier, despite the cost of boosting the capital strength of its former banking arm.

Belfast Telegraph

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