THE UK’s largest mutual business, the Co-operative Group, has blamed the ‘worst economic crisis in living memory’ for its drop in annual profits.
The group is best known for its chain of funeral homes, one of which is in Portsmouth, the Smile internet bank, and its grocery stores.
It is a separate company from the Southern Co-operative, which began its life in Portsmouth.
The group saw its pre-tax profits fall 5.8 per cent in 2011 to £373m, according to results released yesterday.
But chief executive Peter Marks said some of the many Co-op businesses had performed very well in 2011, highlighting results at the group’s financial services division.
Mr Marks said considering the economic conditions, which were the worst he had seen in more than 40 years in business, the results were ‘pretty good’.
‘To be down six per cent in the face of what is arguably the worst economic crisis in living memory, we think that is a pretty good result.’
The Co-operative is also looking into whether it can afford to buy 600 branches of Lloyds bank.