Co-op Group offloads remaining stake in troubled Co-op Bank

Co-op Group offloads remaining stake in troubled Co-op Bank”

"We have choices that others don't", Chief Executive Steve Murrells told reporters on Thursday.

"We're not here for the short term at the behest of the City, we're here for providing value for our members and sharing our wealth", he added, referring to London's financial hub.

It launched a new membership scheme in September a year ago which rewards both members and local communities.

Elsewhere in the report the Co-operative Group revealed that its underlying profit before tax had plummeted by 48% in the first half of the year, mostly due to a £12m drop in profits in the Group's Insurance business.

The Co-op said membership numbers had grown by 500,000 to 4.5 million, with 1.1 million members having joined since the launch of its new membership scheme in September 2016.

Revenues were stable at £4.6 billion while debt was £680m.

Some £29m was invested in member rewards, with £6m given to 4,000 local causes.

The Co-op almost collapsed in 2013 after a 1.5 billion-pound funding "hole" was found in its banking operation.

The Co-op Bank was previously also entirely owned by the Group, but was spun off after a black hole in the lender's balance sheet forced it to seek outside investment.

Murrells said the group's food and funeralcare businesses outperformed their markets.

No details were provided regarding who has acquired the shares, but the Co-op Group raised around £5m from the sale.

These sales only compare shops open for more than a year; on a total basis, food sales fell 1.2pc to £3.48bn after accounting for the disposal of 298 stores to rival chain McColl's.

The CEO said it remained in exclusive talks over a possible offer for convenience retailer Nisa.

In food, the firm is anticipating that inflation will continue to hurt consumers' spending power and said it will remain focused on "making the shopping experience for our members and customers even better".

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