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Co-Op Says Profit Slumps on ‘Worst Conditions in 40 Years’

Co-operative Group Ltd., the U.K.’s largest mutual retailer, said full-year profit will not reach 2010 levels as the economic slowdown bit “deeper than anyone had expected.”

Trading conditions are “the worst I have seen in over 40 years of retailing,” Chief Executive Officer Peter Marks said today in a statement. “Looking ahead, we do not see signs of any real improvement in the economy.”

Co-op is mutually owned by almost six million consumers and is Britain’s fifth-biggest food retailer, according to its website. The company also provides financial services through its banking and insurance units.

“I said six months ago that I felt we’d be bumping along the bottom for some time,” Marks said today on a conference call. “I really don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. The consumer is squeezed like never before.”

Underlying operating profit for the 26 weeks to July 2 dropped 11 percent to 275.1 million pounds ($450.7 million) the Manchester, England-based company said in the statement. Revenue slipped to 6.89 billion pounds from 6.95 billion pounds a year earlier.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Edwards in London at bedwards35@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Colin Keatinge at ckeatinge@bloomberg.net

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