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Co-op chief executive, Peter Marks. (Photo: The Co-operative)

Somerfield, Co-op align

  (UNITED KINGDOM, 8/30/2010)

Somerfield and the Co-operative’s food ranges finish their alignment by the end of September. This comes 17 months after the merger was finalised and at least six months prior to the disappearance of the Somerfield store facade from the High Street.

Co-op is also integrating Britannia Buildling Society with its financial services business that is also progressing well, Co-op’s interim results affirmed. The firm bought Somerfield for GBP 1.565 billion (EUR 1.9 billion) in July 2008 and merged with Britannia a year ago.

Manufacturers’ keener prices after the Somerfield deal also helped the Co-op Group acquire GBP 300 million (EUR 366.8 million) in synergy savings instead of the originally budgeted GBP 200 million (EUR 244.5 million), ComputerWorldUK reports.

“The alignment of the Somerfield and Co-operative ranges will be complete by the end of September 2010 when we will have moved to a common range. This alignment includes all lines, branded and own-label,” said a spokeswoman.

The Store Merchandising and Replenishment Transformation (SMART) programme that will modify the Somerfield central replenishment and ranging systems to work in the Co-operative environment was being implemented throughout the assets, she said.

All commercial relationships with suppliers are being taken care of by the Co-operative Retail Trading Group (CRTG), but the Somerfield head office in Bristol will stay open until June 2011, said the spokeswoman.

“Current operations at the Somerfield HQ include finance, IT and supply chain support,”  the spokeswoman added, FoodManufacture reports.

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The Co-op Group has said that like-for-like sales in re-branded Co-op food markets and converted Somerfield stores jumped by 2.5 per cent. It now owns a 7.6 per cent share of the grocery stores behind Morrisons at 11.6 per cent, Sainsbury’s at 16.1 per cent, Asda at 16.9 per cent and Tesco at 30.8 per cent.

At the same time, poor sales from Somerfield stores pending conversion debilitated overall like-for-like sales in the food sector to -1 per cent.

More than half of the Somerfield stores have thus far been switched into the Co-operative brand, together with 88 per cent of the Co-op (pre-Somerfield) food store estate, with the entire estate that will be trading under the new Co-operative facade by early 2011.

Chief Executive Peter Marks called 2010 “challenging” and said he did not anticipate signs of recovery “until late 2011 at the earliest.”

“We said that to be successful the integration needed to be done at pace: one business within two years. That is still our plan and we are on track to deliver it by the first quarter of 2011,” he commented.

The Co-op Group announced a 12.6 per cent rise in H1 motivating trading profit to GBP 169.7 million (EUR 207.5 million) on sales 11.5 per cent higher now at GBP 3.9 billion (EUR 4.8 billion) in the food business.

By Natalia Real
[email protected]
www.fis.com


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