Leighton leaves Co-op stronger and more member-centric
Allan Leighton says he steps down as Co-op chair with the retail group in a far stronger position.
Announcing half year results this morning, the Co-operative reported lower revenues in food retail, partly impacted by the sale of the petrol forecourt business.
Underlying operating profit increased by £44m, driven by annualisation of £101m cost savings achieved in 2022 and further cost savings in H1 2023, streamlining operational processes and realising the benefits of lower costs to serve as a result of previous investments in supply chain infrastructure and IT systems.
Underlying loss before tax was £9m, £59m less than in 2022.
In his last statement as chair before he steps down Leighton said: “At a time when interest rates and borrowing costs have soared, we’ve managed, under Shirine Khoury-Haq’s leadership, to reduce our net debt to an historically low level. While there is no room for complacency, there is room for confidence in our ability to plan ahead for growth in our Co-op and the impact we can have.
“It has been a pleasure to Chair this amazing business over the past 9 years. Whilst I won’t be a member of the Board into the future, I will certainly remain a Co-op member. The Co-op has always had a special place in my heart and that will continue after I’ve stood down early next year. The Co-op I leave is far stronger and far more member-centric than the one I inherited back in 2015. It is testimony to our amazing colleagues that we can look forward now with such renewed confidence and optimism.”
Shirine Khoury-Haq, Chief Executive of the Co-op, said: “I am very proud of our success over the last six months, particularly given the prevailing economic and market conditions. This performance wouldn’t have been possible had we not taken the decisions we did, as early as we did in 2022, when it came to better management of our members’ money and running the business more efficiently.
“While the economic environment remains challenging, we have again improved our underlying financial strength, significantly grown our membership base and delivered more for our members and their communities. We have done this while staying true to our Rochdale Principles, cooperating through partnerships and campaigning on topics which matter to our members most. We have invested heavily in supporting our members, communities, colleagues and customers through the cost-of-living crisis, and we will continue to do so.
“The business momentum established in the second half of the last financial year has carried through into the first six months of 2023 and has allowed us to significantly strengthen our membership offer and proposition – we have put our member-owners at the heart of what we do. We have listened to what they need, and we have not hesitated in our response.
“While there remains much for us to do, I’d like to thank all of our colleagues for their hard work in the first six months, which is delivering meaningful benefits for our members and their communities.”