Co-op buoyed by growth in supermarket sales figures
The Co-operative supermarket grew sales for the first time in a year, marking a highlight in a troubled two years for the group.
Co-op increased sales by 1% in the 12 weeks to July 19 in the latest till roll figures from Kantar Worldpanel, boosted by its expansion into convenience stores. The chain returned to growth for the first time since July last year, although its market share remained at 6.3%.
The Co-op bank nearly collapsed in 2013 and dragged the wider Co-operative group to a £2.5 billion annual loss that year, after a £1.5 billion hole was discovered in the lender's balance sheet.
Fraser McKevitt, head of consumer and retail insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: "The Manchester-based grocer's focus on its convenience offer has been rewarded with an increase in shopper numbers, which have risen by 133,000."
Overall, Kantar said supermarket sales rose 0.8% year-on-year across the sector, with growth and record market shares coming from smaller grocers as the UK's Big Four supermarkets all suffered falls.
The UK's major chains have fought an intense price war against discounters such as Aldi and Lidl over the last year. The falling price of stables such as eggs and bread, mean that the average grocery basket costs 1.6% less than last year.
Sainsbury's saw its sales fall 0.3% during the period, but still reclaimed its position as the UK's second largest grocer for the first time since January from Asda.
The report said Sainsbury's growth was driven by non-food sales and faster growth at its convenience stores in the South East where it has a large number of stores. Its market share also dipped from 16.6% to 16.5% in the period.
Asda was the biggest faller of the major supermarkets, seeing its sales fall 2.7%, and its market share slip from 17% to 16.4%.
Morrisons was the best performer among the Big Four, with sales edging down 0.1% and its market share also falling from 11% to 10.9%.
During the period, the country's largest supermarket Tesco saw its sales come down by 0.6%, and its market share dip from 28.9% to 28.5%.
Mr McKevitt said: "The continued slow growth of the overall market can be explained by minimal volume growth and lower like-for-like prices, both as a result of cheaper commodity prices and the fierce competition between supermarkets."
By contrast, Aldi grew by 16.6% while Lidl saw growth of 11.3%, meaning both chains moved to record market share highs of 5.6% and 4% respectively.
Click here to find out more about promoting within the Co-Operative Food stores