The Co-operative Group has reported bumper half-year sales and profits following its acquisition of Somerfield earlier this year.

The society reported a 17% increase in pre-tax profits to £228.8m, on group sales up 27.1% to £6.4bn for the six months to 25 July.

Its food division recorded like-for-like sales growth of 7.3% for the period, which chief executive Peter Marks said was due to record levels of investment in the business to create “better shops” and “better prices”.

Food sales rose 62.4% on a continuing basis to £1.5bn, with trading profits up 33.9% to £41.9m.

“While our competitors have been focusing heavily on price alone we have been concentrating on the twin pillars of value and values that are essential in the convenience store sector,” he said.

“In spite of our recent success it would naïve to think that we are immune to the recession. That said, we are pleased with our half-year performance, the second half has started well and we look ahead to the future with renewed confidence.”