The Co-operative Group, with interests in food retailing, specialist retailing, banking and insurance, has delivered strong results for the year ending January 13, 2007. Group profit jumped 17.6% to GBP318 million, helped by like-for-like growth of 4.4%.

The group saw particularly strong growth across its convenience division with like-for-like sales up 7.9%. Meanwhile, the pharmacy division delivered a 60.9% improvement in profits to GBP25.9 million, driven by strong underlying growth and the impact of acquisitions.

Martin Beaumont, chief executive, said in a statement: We are in much better shape than this time 12 months ago – a position that validates our overall strategy and confirms the choices we have made.

Mr Beaumont added: This has helped pave the way for the merger with United Co-operatives that will help secure the co-operative sector’s place in the UK economy for many years to come.