Landmark Wholesale's 32 members are enjoying their biggest dividend since the company was set up in 1972 after a 5% increase in sales for the year to 30 April.

The buying group, members of which include Parfetts Cash & Carry, BA Cash & Carry and DCS Europe, even managed to buck the trend for declining tobacco sales.

Tobacco sales were up 8.3% over the period, although the category as a whole was down 4%, said Landmark managing director Martin Williams.

Grocery sales were up 7.2%, while the only category to suffer a fall in sales was beers, wines and spirits, which Williams said had been affected by duty fraud. However, he was optimistic about the impact of recent moves to curb the problem. "We are delighted with the inroads the FWD is achieving in getting a response from government on this," he said.

Williams put the sales growth down to improved availability and competitive terms for members. "We have robust and credible structures and strategies in place to ensure this success, including quality terms for our members," he said. "We operate negotiated group pricing for all members and have an open book accounting system."

Landmark's move at the beginning of the year to a new central HQ in Milton Keynes, owned directly by the membership, was a further demonstration of the current strength of the membership, he added.

Williams was speaking after Landmark's annual conference in Athens, which was attended by 250 delegates, including members, suppliers and wholesale and convenience retail industry leaders.

During the five-day conference, the group's newest member, Manchester-based Restaurant Wholesale, revealed plans to open several new depots over the next 10 years. Meanwhile, United Wholesale Grocers' director Amaan Ramzen said he was planning a major refurb of the company's Polmadie depot in Glasgow to coincide with the completion of a new motorway network through the city.