Rapid expansion inflamed problems with distribution and availability
The Co-operative Group has experienced a 63 per cent dive in profits for the year to April. Pre-tax profits for the period were down from£241.3 million to£144.1 million for the period. Like-for-like sales at the group's grocery arm decreased by 1 per cent as the retailer suffered the effects of supermarkets, such as Tesco and Sainsbury's, developing their own convenience store formats. Problems with availability were also a factor.

The group's chief executive Martin Beaumont affirmed his commitment to the retailer's ambitious expansion strategy, trebling the number of stores in its portfolio over the past four years. However, he admitted that it did not come without a price.

He added that availability would improve with the opening of a new distribution centre in Coventry next month.