The financial results for 2011 reflect a solid performance by The Co-operative Group, in a period in which we, along with many other businesses, have faced significant challenges. This has been a time of severe challenge for the UK economy. Our customers have felt the squeeze of rising costs and uncertainty about the future. This has, inevitably had an impact on our sales – most notably in those businesses within the Group that rely on ever-tightening discretionary spending.
In these circumstances we can see even more clearly the strength that comes from the diversity of our family of businesses. We can also see the huge benefit of our ownership structure; unlike many of our competitors we are able to take a longer-term view because we do not have to chase short-term profitability. With that in mind, we continued to invest through 2011 as we build on the success of the last five years during which we have transformed The Co-operative Group. This way we are ensuring that when the economy improves we are better placed than ever before to operate in the best interests of all our customers.
Against this backdrop individual business performance was mixed. Overall Group net sales were up slightly at £12.41bn (2010: £12.39bn), reflecting the tough trading period we have been through. Within that the Banking Group saw gross revenue rise 9% to £2.2bn. Our Food business produced sales of £7.3bn, down 2.7% (2010: £7.5bn), and on a LFL basis were down 2.1% for the year, reflecting a marked improvement in the second half – H2 down 0.4% versus H1 down 3.6%. Our Specialist Businesses division produced sales of £1.5bn, up 1% on last year.
Operating profit for the Group was £585m (2010: £582m). On an underlying basis Group operating profit was £526m (2010: £602m). Within that, the Banking Group delivered a profit of £201m (2010: £202m) while in Food, profits were down at £309m (2010:£389m) and Specialist Businesses were collectively up to £99m (2010: £90m).
Profit before payment to members fell 5.8% to £373m (2010: £396m).
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