Thursday 16 September 2021 10:32 am

Co-op sales fall 3.2 per cent amid food shortages

The Co-op has warned that full year profit could be hampered by ongoing supply chain issues after sales fell by 3.2 per cent in H1 2021.

Group revenue stood at £5.6bn for the first half of the year, up 4.2 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels, but a cut below the heights seen last year on the back of Covid-19 lockdowns.

The group reported an underlying operating loss before tax of £15m, down by £71m compared to 2020, and cautioned that ongoing Covid costs and supply chains issues will continue to apply pressure for the rest of the year.

Steve Murrells, Chief Executive of the Co-op, said: “as we continue to experience the effects of the Covid-19 crisis, it is clear that things will never be the same again.

“As a business and as a society, it is crucial that we learn from the last 18 months, particularly as we turn to the momentous task of rebuilding Britain and face into the continuing disruption to our business and our supply chains,” he added, thanking the company’s 62,000 staff for their hard work.

News of the lacklustre half year results come after Murrells told the times that “the shortages are at a worse level than at any time I have seen.”

Empty supermarket shelves have become a common occurance at supermarkets across the company driven by labour shortages and logistics issued caused by Brexit and Covid-19.

Co-op is retraining staff as lorry drivers to help fill vacant roles after road haulage bosses said there is a shortfall of around 100,000 drivers, partly caused by the exit from the UK during the pandemic of thousands of EU drivers who have not yet returned.

Co-op’s share price is up 0.5 per cent today despite its uncertain forecast concerning full year financials.

Read more: Co-op chief: Brexit and Covid have caused the ‘worst food shortages I have ever seen’