The Midcounties Co-operative has reported a 35% increase in trading profit to a record £26m.

For the year to January 22, the member-owned community retailer reported a 3.4% increase in total gross sales (excluding figures for its motor group which was sold last year).

Its food division reported profits up 30%, and pharmacy was up 23%. It distributed £2.9m to members as a share of the profits.

The regionally focussed retailer expanded outside its core area by growing its network of nurseries and will this summer launch a nationwide energy business supplying electricity and gas.

Chief executive Ben Reid said: “It has been a very challenging but rewarding year and now we have to focus on the future. There is every indication that the economic climate is going to remain difficult and it is into these conditions we will be launching Co-operative Energy and developing Co-operative Childcare.

“We are really optimistic that both ventures will quickly establish a foothold in the market. It is exciting for a regionally based society to be extending its reach in this way, and we believe that with the continuing engagement of our colleagues and support from our membership we can continue to go from strength to strength.”

Midcounties is the second largest independent co-operative in the UK, employing around 9,000 people, and headquartered in Warwickshire.