The Co-operative Group has revealed plans to improve its value offering as it unveiled record interim results this week. New food retail MD Tim Hurrell said the society planned to relaunch its Everyday value range next year, revamping its packaging and “significantly” increasing the number of lines from 50. Its £1.57bn acquisition of Somerfield, currently being investigated by the OFT, would give the Co-op better buying terms and a stronger distribution network, which would enable it to better compete on price with the big four.

“There have been a lot of changes in the market on price, with the success of the discounters and the supermarkets’ 50p promotions,” Hurrell said. “If we are going to be the fifth-biggest player, we have to respond to this. By far the biggest benefit to the Somerfield acquisition is that we will be able to improve our buying terms.”

Sales in its food business rose 43.5% to £2.4bn in the six months to 26 July, with like-for-like sales up 5% and trading profit up 67.7% to £126m. Stripping out the merger with United Co-op last July, sales would have increased 7.4% and trading profit 28.2%.

The ongoing store refurb programme and own-label rebranding had boosted sales, he added. Some 1,100 products had already been rebranded, with 90% of all own-label lines due to be updated by March. The remaining 10% would be completed by the end of 2009. Its Truly Irresistible range now boasted 350 lines and the brand would be worth £150m this year.