The Co-op is the UK’s sixth largest grocer and operates over 2,700 stores, the bulk of which are neighbourhood convenience stores.
It has been on a turnaround programme known as “Rescue, Rebuild and Renew” for the past few years, following a flagging performance and near-collapse in 2013. It entered the final phase of this turnaround in 2018 and the past few years have seen the Co-op performing strongly against its big four rivals and creating a Co-op that is “relevant and vital” to a new generation.
Following a three-year growth period to 2020, food retail sales fell 1.2% in 2021 to £7.67bn against tough year-on-year comparisons and supply chain challenges. Co-op benefits from its small format and convenient locations, which together with its focus on sustainability and community causes give it purpose and brand relevance that ties in with consumer shopping trends.
Co-op’s retail growth has been driven by a growing wholesale operation and online expansion. At the end of 2021 it offered online delivery from more than 1,600 stores in partnership with delivery intermediaries, a service that continues to expand. Online sales more than doubled to reach £200m in FY2021. A £45m investment into a new distribution centre, set to open in 2022, further supports these efforts.
Innovation rating: 3