The Co-operative Group said in the six months to June 29 like-for-like food retail sales grew 3.9% driven by buoyant growth in the convenience store sector.

Food retail sales at the group rose £43.2m to £1.41bn, while total income increased to £3.6bn up £1.09bn due to the consolidation of its insurance subsidiary, CIS, the society said.

During the year the group bought two chains, GT Smith with 13 stores in west Yorkshire and Williams with seven shops in east Yorkshire, plus a number of individual stores from rivals Costcutter, Londis and Spar.

No mention was made of the speculation that the group is about to buy indebted c-store operator Alldays, priced at some £150m for its 600-strong estate.