The Co-operative Group is gearing up to launch a major brand campaign this spring after reporting a strong performance over Christmas at its food stores.

Co-op chief executive Peter Marks said: “We are working on the details of the campaign now but it will be a huge investment for us. We will totally relaunch the brand and want to send a message out to people to come and try us if they haven't been for a while as we've changed.”

The retailer reported like-for-like sales up 6 per cent for the three weeks to January 3, taking like-for-like sales growth for the fourth quarter to 5.2 per cent.

Marks said he expects to complete the acquisition of Somerfield in the first quarter of 2009 and will “hit the ground running” in terms of the integration of the two grocers.