CWS says it is on target to realise the full potential of the merger with CRS in 2002 ­ and claims synergy savings of £30m next year would wipe out the ongoing losses inherited from the rival society. A decision on a new name for the enlarged society "to better reflect the nature of the organisation" could be announced shortly. The issue is "certainly on the agenda" at the next meeting of its Rules and Practices Review Board, scheduled for October 24. Retail director Malcolm Hepworth said: "We're about 80% there in integrating all our IT and distribution systems." Sales at the society's food operations were up 50% in the 24 weeks to June 24, thanks to the CRS merger and the recent acquisition of 11 Somerfield stores. Sales in food retailing were £765.3m compared with the £510.7m recorded last year. No like for like figures were published by the society, which insists growth in its convenience business is "very positive", while the food retail division as a whole presents "a mixed picture." Hepworth admitted the society's superstores were still being badly hit by the "Wal-Mart effect", justifying the recent decision to sell off 16 stores to free up cash to invest in more profitable formats. The society is converting its c-stores to the Welcome format and its entire estate of market town supermarkets is also being revamped. "We've actually accelerated the CRS refurbishments to the Welcome format because there's undoubted potential there," said Hepworth. Total sales at the society were up 27% to £1.9bn during the six months. But operating profit from trading activities was down 64% to £7m partly because of the costs of merging the underperforming CRS business but also due to an "accelerating decline" in the farming operation. {{NEWS }}