Mutual retailer The Co-operative Group has posted a fourth quarter annual like-for-like (LFL) sales decline of 0.6 per cent across all of its sectors bar financial services.
In the 13 weeks to January 1st 2011, LFL sales of food dropped 3.2 per cent year-on-year for the retailer, with the heavy snow in December disrupting its national network.
Thanks to the ongoing assimilation of the Somerfield stores, around 200 stores were closed on average for seven days at a time in order to be refitted, but despite this the group’s convenience division still managed a two per cent rise in LFL sales.
Peter Marks, Group CEO of Co-op, said: “We have delivered a solid trading performance across our retail businesses in a difficult environment.
“The exceptionally cold weather created logistical issues for our food stores - particularly given the sheer scale and geographic spread of our estate.
“The planned acceleration of the Somerfield conversion programme was an added issue - but this continues at pace and we remain on track to complete the process by spring 2011.”
Non-food sections of the business - online, electrical, motor and travel - performed well in the period, collectively growing LFL sales by 12.1 per cent.
Co-op has been undergoing significant transformation in recent weeks, with the announcement of the final part of its distribution network changes, a new advertising campaign and signing its biggest ever sponsorship deal.
Marks added: “The performance of our non-food businesses was very strong overall and, together with the excellent progress made by our financial services business, we are confident that 2010 will have proved to be another record year for The Co-operative Group.”
Preliminary results for the whole full-year period to the start of 2011 will be published in March.