Belfast Telegraph

It's not all bad news as Co-Op losses hit £550m

What's going on at the Co? Yesterday's results are like taking a step back a couple of years when bank reporting season made the sort of reading which would have you hiding behind the sofa.

A more conservative balance sheet, falling impairment charges and in some cases even a touch of that retro attribute profit had left us with not so much of a warm glow but certainly a less cold and hardened outlook.

The Co-operative Group's £559m loss in the first half of the year brought us straight back down to earth with a bang, throwing ice cold water in our overly flushed faces.

It has two banks in Northern Ireland, one under the Co-operative Bank brand and one under Britannia, the arm it merged with in 2009.

In fact, it's the latter division where most of yesterday's losses originated.

Take the other arms of the Co-operative Group and there was a solid profit from a company which proliferates across the UK.

While it might not seem as if the organisation has a big presence in Northern Ireland, the stats reveal a deep penetration.

As well as the two banks there are a total of 88,000 Co-operative members in Northern Ireland as well as 32 food stores – served by a massive 8,000 square foot warehouse in Carrickfergus.

There are also nine pharmacy branches and 19 funeral homes.

In total, it employs 1,000 people here so is obviously a major part of the economy.

So seeing it brought to its knees by the banking division is truly a shame.

Meanwhile, the chance that the recent round of positive economic news wasn't just a flash in the pan is growing, what with the world's biggest economy recording what can only be described as stonking growth.

Figures just out reveal it grew by 2.5% in the second quarter of the year, the kind of performance which would have been a pipe dream only a few months ago.

The saying goes "when the US economy sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold" but it also stands true that a sugar rush there will eventually give us an energy spike.

Let's hope it's more of the slow release type of energy you get from eating a banana rather than that from a sugary drink.

Belfast Telegraph

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