This morning we published our annual results for 2020 as a Co-op Group. As we all know 2020 has been a year like no other and I’d like to start off by saying a huge thank you to every single one of you for both your individual and collective contributions to our results.
Here are some of the highlights from our Food business.
Feeding the nation in a global pandemic
Over a year ago we entered our first lockdown and the global pandemic began. Overnight our world changed, we were all recognised as key workers and given the task of keeping the nation fed.
Looking back on the last 12 months, I’m so incredibly proud of you all. We were there for each other, our customers and members, and our communities at a time when it mattered most.
Our sales and like-for-likes have grown as customers shopped more locally. Throughout the year we prioritised safety in our stores as well as keeping them open for our communities. We invested in recruitment, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), customer signage and extra hours for things like cleaning and managing queues, all of which totalled around £84m. Our frontline colleagues also received a well-deserved thank you package in the Summer. Over the Winter, we also ran our 12 days of togetherness where colleagues benefited from a range of reward and recognition to mark what had been a tough year and to say thank you once again.
Even though the year was dominated by our response to the crisis, we still managed to achieve great things together.
Closer to where customers are, what they need and what they care about
Over the last few years, we’ve proven that our closer strategy is the right one. This year it’s allowed us to be flexible and pivot our plans to an ever-changing landscape.
We’ve continued to expand our routes to market through retail, wholesale and online. In our own estate we’ve continued to open and refit stores as you can see in the numbers above. We've recently become an Associated Member of the British Franchise Association (BFA) and will open 25 more stores this year. We’ve seen significant growth for our Nisa partners, who’ve benefited from our award-winning range, which has helped us sign up over 600 new stores. We also supercharged our online offer. Our same-day delivery service is now available in over 100 towns and cities, serviced through 800 stores and our amazing delivery partners.
We stayed close to emerging trends like home eating and scratch cooking and understood what our customers needed from us. We launched our ethically sourced Honest Value range, a new FairTrade EverGround hot drinks offer and a range of eat-out-of-home fake-away boxes. We also invested a further £50m in price, lowering prices by nearly 15% on average across 300 products.
More importantly, we played our part in supporting our communities and here are just a few examples. We made it easier for those staying at home to pay for their shopping and get their essentials delivered. We sold the Big Issue in our shops as the streets emptied. We donated £2m TV airtime and £1.5m meals to FareShare. We funded £3.1m free school meal vouchers for our Co-op Academy students. We also redirected £900k funds to The One Foundation and Fairtrade producers, as well as increasing the visibility of these products in our stores to promote stronger sales.
Co-operating for a fairer world
Moving forward, we have a huge part to play in delivering our vision of Co-operating for a Fairer World.
In 2021 we’ll align colleague pay to the Real Living Wage, giving colleagues and their families greater financial resilience. We’ll continue to prioritise colleague safety and wellbeing. We’ve invested millions in industry leading technology to prevent crime and protect our colleagues and our 'Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities' campaign continues to raise awareness of the violence and abuse our shopworkers face. This year the Scottish Parliament introduced legislation to give shopworkers greater protection and I’ll continue to put pressure on Westminster to follow and give the same protection for the rest of our colleagues.
This year, we’ll continue to address ongoing food poverty and access to food. We'll be strengthening our own food redistribution programme and testing out exciting new concepts such as our community fridges initiative.
We’ll prioritise our climate change ambition, looking at the potential for carbon neutral stores and products. All our own brand products will be in easy to recycle packaging and we’ll roll out our film collection scheme in every community. Our approach to responsible sourcing will continue, going further with things like deforestation, soy, palm oil and Fairtrade. There’s hope ahead and this past year has demonstrated what we can do when we put co-operation at the heart of what we do.
A huge thank you again to every single one of you for playing your part in feeding the nation and ensuring we could respond as a Co-op in such challenging times.