1.4 million to share the payout
Members of the Co-operative Group are to share a payout of£19.6 million after profits soared last year.

The banking-to-food retail group said that 1.4 million members would receive a payment in the next few days. The Co-operative Group - which will complete its merger with United Co-operatives to form the world's biggest consumer co-operative organisation next month - will distribute£520,000 of the amount to community projects.

This community money will come from members who have either chosen to forego their entire share of dividend profit or to donate some of their money to charity groups. The Co-op relaunched its membership scheme last year.

In April, the Co-operative Group said its pre-tax profits jumped 17.6 per cent to£318 million for the year to January 13.

The Co-operative Group chief executive Martin Beaumont said: 'Last year was a good one for the group as a whole and, following the launch of our new membership scheme, for the first time members can reap the rewards of our success across our diverse family of businesses.' Beaumont is set to retire next month.