UK grocery retailer The Co-operative has announced its food sales fell by £80m (€95.6m) during 2011.
In the year to 31 December, food performance 'reflected an increasingly tough market' producing an underlying profit of £309m (€369m) against 2010’s £389m (€465m).
Throughout the year like-for-like sales improved from a lull of -3.6 per cent in the first half of 2011 to -0.4 per cent in the second half to make the full year -2.1 per cent.
Overall, gross sales rose from £13.1bn (€15.7bn) in 2010 to £13.3bn (€15.9bn) in 2011, a rise of 1.0 per cent, and operating profit increased 0.5 per cent to £585m (€699m).
Two new distribution centres opened during 2011 and two more are in the pipeline thanks to a further investment of £110m (€131.5m).
Peter Marks, group chief executive, said: "The Co-operative Group has delivered a solid set of results against the toughest economic backdrop I have seen in more than 40 years in business.
“2011 was a time of severe challenge for the UK economy and for our millions of customers and members. Consumers have been assailed by rising costs, credit squeeze and uncertainty about the future to an extent unparalleled in recent times.
“Against this background, I believe that this is a creditable performance. We have delivered profitability in-line with expectations, while maintaining our financial strength and resilience.”