The Midcounties Co-operative has reported a record trading profit after a 35 per cent increase.
The member-owned community retailer has seen profits rise from £19.3 million last year to a record £26 million.
As a result it has announced an increase in its dividend from 1.5p to 1.8p per point for its members.
It also reported a 3.4 per cent increase in gross sales at its food stores, travel branches, pharmacies, funeral homes and nurseries.
Chief executive Ben Reid said: “It has been a very challenging but rewarding year and now we have to focus on the future. There is every indication that the economic climate is going to remain difficult and it is into these conditions we will be launching Co-operative Energy and developing Co-operative Childcare.
“We are really optimistic that both ventures will quickly establish a foothold in the market. It is exciting for a regionally based society to be extending its reach in this way, and we believe that with the continuing engagement of our colleagues and support from our membership we can continue to go from strength to strength.”
The Co-operative’s annual report for year to January 22 showed the largest increase in profits – 30 per cent – was in its food department.
It has shared a total of £2.9 million of its profits with members.
The society employs around 9,000 people and has its headquarters in Warwickshire with trading outlets in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Shropshire, West Midlands, Worcestershire and across the rest of the UK.