Belfast Telegraph

Co-op can bank on rise in supermarket sales

Holly Williams bustel@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

THE embattled Co-operative Group shrugged off woes in its banking arm as its supermarket business returned to food sales growth for the first time since February, according to new figures.

Data from Kantar Worldpanel revealed that Co-op sales edged 0.2% higher year-on-year in the 12 weeks to July 7, although its market share fell from 6.6% to 6.4%.

The group, battling to plug a £1.5 billion hole in its banking division's balance sheet, has suffered falling food sales since the 12 weeks to February, says Kantar.

It remains the fifth biggest grocery retailer behind Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons, but has been losing ground to rivals.

Strong growth from competitors such as Waitrose and the discounters Lidl and Aldi has hit the Co-op, as have increased moves by the big players into the convenience market in recent years.

The Co-op had a combined share of 9.1% at the time of its £1.56 billion deal to buy Somerfield in 2008, but has seen this drop sharply since. Kantar's figures also showed that Sainsbury's was once more the only one of the "big four" supermarkets not to lose market share in the three months to July 7, holding firm at 16.5% as sales grew 3.8%.

Tesco slipped from 30.7% to 30.1%, Asda fell from 17.3% to 17% and Morrisons declined from 11.9% to 11.7%.

Waitrose, Aldi and Lidl were the star performers again, with Lidl reaching an all-time high with a 3.1% share and Aldi retaining its record 3.6%.

Sales growth at Waitrose – the supermarket arm of the John Lewis Partnership – stood at 10.9%, nearly three times the market average, giving it a 4.8% share, up from 4.5% a year earlier.

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