The Midcounties Co-operative is celebrating after delivering a 19 per cent increase in trading profit to a record £19.3 million.

The member-owned community retailer - which is headquartered in Walsall - saw sales for 2009/10 hit £787m - £39 million more than the previous year.

Food retail was particularly strong with 7.3 per cent like-for-like growth in sales over the year. Other areas of the business include travel branches, pharmacies, funeral and childcare businesses.

Chief executive Ben Reid said: “We believe the improved performance is directly related to the shift in the public’s view of organisations like co-operatives, whose business model is based on mutuality.

"Trust in so many organisations has been eroded over the last 12 months and there is a clear desire to support those which have not disappointed.

“The Co-operative and its business model is just such an organisation. The relaunch of our brand, reinforcing our core values, could not have come at a better time and customers have responded.”

Midcounties, the second largest independent co-operative in the UK, also gave almost £1.2 million back to the communities where it trades through fundraising, volunteering, grant giving and project work.                                                                       

All Midcounties trading sites in its heartlands in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Wiltshire and Worcestershire, and in the surrounding counties, have now been rebranded with the new Co-operative fascias. The new look aims to promote its family of businesses as part of an ethical community-focused movement. 

Mr Reid added: “The combination of changing public perception, the rebranding, and the relaunch of our values has been a real driver over the year. The Co-operative Movement is indeed on the move, and that gives me real optimism for the coming year. 

“Trading conditions will be difficult, but I believe we have a real advantage, our values.  These have been recognised by the public and as long as we remain true to them, we have a bright future ahead.”