Midlands Co-operative Society has become the latest co-op to exit the department store retailing sector.

It is to close its eight fashion and home department stores over the next six months due to “major changes in the retailing sector and the ever increasing growth in online shopping”.

In a statement, the society added: “While our other businesses have flourished, the society has been incurring substantial losses from the fashion & home operation for more than a decade and in spite of sustained efforts to improve performance, the latest financial projections indicate a further decline with increasing losses in future years.”

Its decision to exit the market follows similar moves by Anglia Co-op and East of England Co-op in recent years.

Anglia sold its 19 department stores to Beales in April 2011, while in 2009, East of England Co-op sold 12 sites to Vergo Retail. Vergo, which also acquired sites from Plymouth & South West Co-op - which has since merged with The Co-operative Group - fell into administration in May 2010.