Southern Co-operative has reported like-for-like sales growth of 7.6% for the year to 26 January.

The society claimed the growth was boosted by the conversion of stores acquired in 2006 and a focus on community retailing.

Group pre-tax profit rose 22% to £10m during the year on group sales up 10.4% to £198.1m. Retail sales rose 12.5% to £189m.

The society opened four new stores and refurbished nine during the period and said it was keen to acquire more stores this year.

"These stores provide a fresh, modern shopping environment with a growing selection of products and give customers an essential alternative to out-of-town supermarkets," said CEO Graham Bennett.

"Our markets are increasingly competitive and cost pressures are impacting on our business and our members' disposable incomes," he added. "However, our co-operative is particularly well placed to serve our members in meeting the demand for ethical and sustainable ways to shop locally in the future."