Co-op group is back in the black as it reveals members got £74m reward in 2017

The group has put previous struggles, including the near-collapse
The Co-operative Group swung back into profit last year, with sales up and debt “significantly reduced”, in a marked turnaround from the past few turbulent years.
Members of the Co-op received a total reward of £74m in 2017, the firm said, comprised of £61m in personal rewards and £13m going towards community projects. Active membership grew by 15 per cent to 4.6 million last year.
Read more How the Co-op went from near collapse to 100 new stores The group reported pre-tax profit of £72m for 2017, compared with a loss of £132m the year before. Underlying pre-tax profit was £65m, up 25 per cent on the £52m reported in 2016, while operating profit fell to £126m from £148m.
Revenues were flat at £9.5bn, with like-for-like food sales up 3.4 per cent, and convenience sales up 4.3 per cent.
The Co-op said revenues from its funeral and life planning business rose 4 per cent to £343m, with sales in will writing and p..

Bright Lights, Big Shoulder Pads: A Timid Japan Recalls Its Bubble Era

Supported by Business Day Bright Lights, Big Shoulder Pads: A Timid Japan Recalls Its Bubble Era TOKYO — Kaori Masukodera remembers, barely, riding as a child with her mother, her hair teased and her lips bright red, in the family’s convertible to the beach. It was the last gasp of the 1980s, a time of Champagne, garish colors and bubbly disco dance-floor anthems, and the last time many people in Japan felt rich and ascendant.
A so-called Lost Decade and many economically stagnant years later, the family’s convertible and beach vacations are long gone — but Ms. Masukodera is helping to bring the rest of Japan’s bubble era back. She performs in a pop-music duo called Bed In that borrows heavily from the keyboard lines, electric drums and power chords of the ’80s. They dress ’80s, too: The shoulder pads are big, the skirts are mini and the hues are Day-Glo when they aren’t just plain shiny.
Bed In, a pop duo, has borrowed the sounds and the looks of Japan's 1980s bubble era. V..

Volokolamsk journal: ‘When a City of 40,000 People Gets Poisoned, They Don’t Care’

‘When a City of 40,000 People Gets Poisoned, They Don’t Care’ Photo An aerial view of the Yadrovo landfill site near the town of Volokolamsk, west of Moscow. Credit Dmitry Serebryakov/Associated Press VOLOKOLAMSK, Russia — Five years ago, Aleksei G. Stelmakh thought he had built his little wooden house in one of the best neighborhoods around Moscow. Every day he could walk out onto his porch, breathe fresh air and scan the picturesque pine forest nearby.
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By The New York Times Now, all he sees is a giant landfill, a heap of trash about 100 feet tall, so big that trucks on it look like insects. The fresh air is now s..

Body of Missing C.D.C. Employee Found in Atlanta River

Body of Missing C.D.C. Employee Found in Atlanta River Photo Timothy J. Cunningham, whose body was found Tuesday. Credit via Terrell Cunningham The body of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention employee who went missing two months ago was found in a river in Atlanta on Tuesday, the authorities said on Thursday.
In February, the authorities announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and indictment in the disappearance of Timothy J. Cunningham, 35. But on Thursday the authorities said there did not appear to be any signs of foul play in his death.
“Right now the preliminary cause of death is drowning, but the investigation is still open,” Dr. Jan Gorniak, the chief medical examiner of Fulton County, said at a news conference. “We do not have a manner of death or whether it is an accident or suicide or anything other than that.”
Mr. Cunningham was last seen leaving work on Feb. 12 after telling colleagues he did not feel well.
His body was spotted on Tuesday in..

Pension freedoms causing confusion and longer careers for UK's older workers, study shows

Older workers are now planning to retire later because of pension concerns, the research found
Almost two-thirds of working over-55s in the UK have admitted they are confused by the rules around pensions since the government introduced more freedom to the sector in 2015, according to a new study.
Pension freedoms, launched by the former chancellor, George Osborne, give everyone aged 55 years and older greater flexibility on how to use their defined contribution pension funds, where previously they were required to purchase annuity products with their savings.
Read more FCA adds to confusion created by Osborne’s pension freedom reforms Research from Prudential shows that 64 per cent of over-55s say they are confused by the regulations, while 82 per cent want the government to stop making changes to pension rules.
Meanwhile, 42 per cent are concerned about running out of money during retirement and 41 per cent are worried about paying for long-term care.
People are growing inc..

White House Tries to Pull Nafta Back From Brink as Deadlines Loom

Supported by Politics White House Tries to Pull Nafta Back From Brink as Deadlines Loom Photo An assembly line at a Volkswagen plant in Mexico. A new proposal would tie the North American Free Trade Agreement’s preferential tariffs to higher wages for auto workers, aimed at stopping United States automakers from shifting production to Mexico in search of cheap labor. Credit Pedro Pardo/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images WASHINGTON — After months of fraught negotiations and stalled talks, the Trump administration is aiming to announce a preliminary deal on the North American Free Trade Agreement this month, moving to resolve one trading conflict as a separate clash with China looms.
A final agreement is far from guaranteed, but the White House is revising some of its more aggressive demands, particularly related to automobiles, which had been a source of tension with Canada and Mexico. A new proposal would require an automobile to contain components made by workers earning a speci..