Beleaguered Co-op reveals £2.5bn loss

Guy Bentley
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The Co-op has unveiled losses of £2.5bn. The group admitted it had been a "disastrous" year, going so far as to say it was the worst in its 150-year history.

Interim chief executive Richard Penny cook, commented "these results should serve as a wake-up call to anyone who doubts just how serious the challenges we face are."

Co-op sales were down £500m from the previous year, with profits from the company's food division falling by eight per cent to £247m.

However, there were elements of good news amongst the doom and gloom. General insurance profit rose from £13m in 2012 to £33m last year. The funeral part of the business saw a rise in profit of three per cent.

The troubled group has been subject to constant pressure in recent weeks, with former City minister Lord Myners accusing Co-op managers of making inept decisions.

The group recently came under fire from workers, as the Unite union voiced its support for major reforms of the mutual's governance structure. Unite insisted that the board should not be allowed to hold up the necessary changes.

"On a daily basis we see the speed the sector is moving and with such pace, that unless the review is completed, there will be no chance of the Co-op being able to compete in such a cut-throat sector,” said Unite’s Adrian Jones in a letter to the Co-op’s regional boards.

On Friday, the group's banking arm reported losses of £1.3bn, which makes up a little less than half of the group's losses for 2013. The bank's former chairman, Paul Flowers, was charged with offences over class A and class C drugs yesterday.