Operating profit climbed 24% to £4.2m in the first 16 weeks of Midlands Co-op's trading year compared with the same period a year ago. Sales in the same period were up 11.4% to £204m. Trading in food stores increased 7% in the first 16 weeks of the year with like for like growth of 5.6% year on year. Chief executive Willie Tucker said: "We are a strong and strategically focused society with our sights set firmly on expansion. Midlands Co-op is to open a new 12,000 sq ft foodstore in Dudley at the start of September as part of its £38m investment plans for the year. {{NEWS }}