The Co-operative Group is to pay out more than £50m to its members in what represents the society’s largest-ever dividend.

The £50.4m sum is up from last year’s payout of £38.8m and comes after the mutual posted profits for 2009 of £402m.

The Co-op said its members had pledged £1.6m of the dividend to charitable groups, with some foregoing their share of the payout completely.

“It is only right that our members, who ultimately own and control the business, share in our success,” said Patrick Allen, The Co-op’s director of marketing.

“Last year was particularly successful for us. We acquired Somerfield, CFS [the group’s financial services arm] merged with Britannia and we launched the new The Co-operative brand with a high-profile advertising campaign.”

He added: “As a member the points quickly add up. Someone spending £20 a week in our food stores who takes a £1,500 holiday with our travel business and buys a funeral plan would earn £85.80 in the course of a year.”

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