Updates from the Co-operative Group and Homeserve

Co-op Group flogs pharmacies business


The FTSE 100 lost 46.3 points on Thursday, down -0.68%. Hargreaves Lansdown was the biggest faller, losing 4.0% to 1115p. BA owner IAG also saw a heavy lurch south, down 3.0% to 330.7p. Barclays shares lost 2.69% to 210.2p. In contrast, ITV shares surged 6.15% to 195.10p on news Virgin Media owner Liberty Global had snapped up BSkyB's 6.4% holding.

The tragic downing of the Malaysian Airlines jet MH17 sparked jitters, with the Dow Jones losing almost 162 points to 16,976.8.

The big news this morning is from the Co-operative Group, confirming it will sell its Pharmacy business to Bestway Group for £620 million. The transaction goes ahead in October.

The Co-op will provide some services to the Pharmacy business for up to 18 months under a transitional services agreement. Bestway is the UK's eighteenth largest privately owned company.

"The proceeds," says interim chief exec Richard Pennycook, "will enable The Co-operative to reduce debt and invest in our business and is part of the focused delivery of our clear strategic plans and priorities."

Next, HomeServe claims its UK business made solid progress in the first three months of the current financial year, with a strong retention rate. The international businesses continued to deliver growth it claims.

It says it's on track to achieve a target of 0.3m gross new customers during FY2015 and expects customer numbers to be at at least 2m with a retention rate of around 82%.

"In the USA," HomeServe says, "we continue to achieve good customer growth and retention remains strong...in France, we have maintained a high retention rate of 89%."

Finally, specialist building products player SIG says it has bought Sodimat SAS, a specialist distributor of flat roofing products in France, based in Lyon, for €4.4m cash.

For the financial year ended 31 December 2013 Sodimat SAS made a profit before tax of €0.55m. Gross assets were €1.4m as at 31 December 2013.

"This infill acquisition," says the company, "is in line with the Group's strategy of expanding its French roofing business, Lariviere, in the South of France, and strengthening its offering in flat roofing."

Co-operative Group