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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 May, 2004, 19:11 GMT 20:11 UK
Co-op celebrates profits surge
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The Co-op saw a 5.4bn income rise in 2002
Co-operatives UK has reported its biggest annual improvement in trading since the 1960s.

Annual profits have gone up by 38% for the group of consumer-owned societies including supermarkets, travel shops and undertakers.

Turnover increased by 6.4% to 13.3bn, while net profits rose to 441m from 320m, year on year.

The latest figures were announced at the annual Co-operative meeting in Manchester on Sunday.

Co-operatives UK chief executive Dame Pauline Green said there had been a "gradual and solid" improvement over the last five years.

"Our improvement in both profitability and market share is the result of a greater focus on business performance, acquisitions and improved financial management," she said.

The Co-op's acquisition strategy in food retailing, which has pushed its share of the food market up from 5.6%to 6%, the Press Association reported.

Co-operatives UK, formerly known as Co-operative Union, brings together thousands of individual co-operative businesses.

The strongest performing societies include Lothian, Borders & Angus with profit as a percentage of sales rising to 7%, the Press Association reported.

The latest figures covers the periods ending September 2003 and January 2004.

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