Co-operative Group sees 2010 profits jump 50%

Co-op supermarket
Image caption Sales at Co-op supermarkets fell during 2010

The Co-operative Group has reported "record" results for 2010, with higher sales and profits up almost 50%.

Pre-tax profit for the full year came in at £545.7m, compared with £367.9m in 2009, while group sales rose by almost 10% to £13.7bn.

The improved performance came despite a 2.5% fall in like-for-like sales at the group's supermarket business.

The company also warned of challenging trading conditions for the rest of the year and into 2012.

"Looking ahead, we had hoped to see signs of recovery by the start of 2011, but the downturn is clearly biting deeper than we expected," said chief executive Peter Marks.

Earnings were boosted by the continued integration of Somerfield supermarkets and the Britannia Building Society.

The group also said it was increasing dividend payments to its 6.5 million members by more than 50% to £77.4m in total.

As the name suggests, the Co-operative Group is owned by its members.

It is the fifth-largest food retailer in the UK and the third-largest retail pharmacy. It also has financial services, travel and funeral divisions.

Revenues at financial services arm rose by almost 25%, while those at the funeral business were up 10%.

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