Co-op confirms its bid for Somerfield

The Co-operative finally confirmed that it is in discussion with Somerfield to buy the chain as it released its preliminary results for the 52 weeks to 12 January 2008.

The Co-operative finally confirmed that it is in discussions with Somerfield to buy the chain as it released its preliminary results for the 52 weeks to 12 January 2008.

A spokesman for the Co-operative told MTJ today: "It is early days but we are in discussions with Somerfield. However, by no means is there a certainty that the deal will happen. There is still due diligence to go through."

Co-operative group sales net of VAT rose 13.4% to £8.3bn, but profits before payment to members fell to £195.5m. The latter figure it said could be attributed to among other things integration costs and the severe weather impact on the insurance business.

Net debt rose from £155m t0 £563m reflecting the impact of the merger of the Co-operative Group and United Co-operatives, and significant investment in acquisition and refits.

However, the Co-operative said in food, a strong trading performance combined with new product launches and further store refits delivered excellent results.

Commenting on the outlook for the coming year, Peter Marks, the Co-operative's chief executive, said: "In our core food business the momentum generated during 2007 has continued into 2008 with strong like-for-like sales in first three months. We expect this to continue throughout the year, boosted by the rebranding programme, which is generating significant sales uplift."

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