Co-op continued its strong growth trajectory as sales, profits and member value all registering an increase during the first half of the year. The consumer cooperative has also announced its entry into pharmacy sector with the acquisition of Dimec, a healthcare technology start-up.

Sales increased by 10 percent to £5 billion, driven by a strong food sales performance and the acquisition of Nisa, Co-op said in its H1 results. Food Retail like-for-like (LFL) sales were up 4.4 percent, and core convenience LFL sales were up by 5.1 percent, marking the 18th consecutive quarter of LFL sales growth.

Total Food sales were up 3 percent to £3.6 billion, reflecting strong sales growth driven by a market leading offer for the World Cup with underlying food operating profit up 23 percent at £80 million.

Group pre-tax profit increased to £26 million (2017: £14 million) and group underlying pre-tax profit increased to £10 million (2017: £3 million), this after £35 million of reward is generated for Co-op members and their communities.

With the acquisition of Nisa, Co-op now supplies food to over 7,700 stores and by the end of 2018  850 Co-op own-brand product lines will be supplied to Nisa partners.

Acquisition of Dimec, which has developed a unique digital solution that enables patients and their GPs to interact and better manage their prescription needs, marks Co-op’s return into the healthcare sector.

It is the first acquisition by Co-op Ventures, the new innovation unit established to develop challenger Co-op businesses and designed to disrupt markets in which the Co-op does not currently operate.

“We’re moving forward at pace with our Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities plan, which we set out at the beginning of the year. We know that in order to make a difference, we have to be commercially successful and our performance in the first half shows that we’re delivering on that ambition,” said Steve Murrells, Chief Executive of the Co-op.