East of England Co-operative Society is on the hunt for further acquisitions, according to chief executive Richard Samson.

This week the society reported a 26% increase in trading profit to £5.5m on sales up 6.8% to £217m for the 28 weeks to 11 August.

The figures had been boosted by the society's acquisition of 20-strong

c-store chain Anglian Convenience Stores in February this year, said Samson.

"Our food retail business is now one of the fastest growing major UK consumer co-operatives this year, with the acquisition of Anglian Convenience Stores helping to increase our market share," he said. "We intend to build on this success and further developments and acquisitions are under consideration."

The stores acquired from Anglian were producing higher sales levels following their rebranding as East of England Co-op food stores.

"I am particularly pleased that we have achieved a 26% increase in trading profit at a time when our stores are coming under increased competitive pressure," said Samson.

"The indications are that we will have to stay totally focused in the critical months ahead to ensure that we can maintain a strong performance in what looks like being a difficult run-in to the end of 2007."

The society's membership was also continuing to increase, with more than 16,000 new members joining the scheme since it was relaunched in January, Samson added. More than 414,000 new cards had also been issued to members since the relaunch.