April 6, 2018 / 8:00 AM / 4 months ago

Britain's Co-op reports profit jump, eyes new markets

LONDON, April 6 (Reuters) - Britain’s Co-operative Group reported a 25 percent rise in annual profit on Friday and said this year it would expand its convenience store network and enter new sectors.

Co-op, in recovery mode since 2013 when a crisis in its banking unit nearly brought it to its knees, posted underlying pretax profit of 65 million pounds ($91 million), up 25 percent, boosted by cost cutting.

The mutually-owned group’s strategy is to return profit to its members and their communities.

It said it plans to open 100 convenience grocery stores this year, despite noting that the food sector would remain highly competitive.

Co-op, which sells insurance products, also said it would using its existing digital member platform to help develop the new initiatives in health and money.

“We are going to deliver more Co-op products and services to more people throughout the country,” Co-op Chief Executive Steve Murrells said in a statement on Friday.

Co-op nearly collapsed in 2013 after problems in its banking unit. It no longer has a stake in the bank, and has since returned to growth, helped by the shift in Britons’ grocery shopping habits towards more frequent trips to smaller convenience stores - the mainstay of its business.

$1 = 0.7145 pounds Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Jason Neely

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