The Midcounties Co-operative has reported a £1.3m increase in group operating profits to £19m in the year to January 29.

Like-for-like sales in its food division rose 1% while total sales rose 8% to £597m.

The group, which is the second biggest co-operative behind The Co-operative Group, recorded a 20% rise in sales during the year to £943m. The retailer broke the £1bn sales marker for a 12-month period for the first time last month.

The retailer said its growth in food had been achieved through “continued focus on customer delivery” along with the purchase of 10 Harry Tuffins stores and six new store openings.

Midcounties Co-operative chief executive Ben Reid said: “The society has had a very exciting year as a result of significant investment, particularly in childcare, travel and food and the very rapid growth of our energy business.

“The £1bn represents a doubling of our turnover in just eight years. That’s a spectacular endorsement of the co-operative way, which is doing business with a social conscience.”

The company moved 11 places up the Sunday Times 25 Best Big Companies to Work For during the year to 13th place.