The Co-operative Group yesterday [Tuesday] reported a robust set of first half results, with convenience stores spearheading the growth in sales.

In its first set of fully consolidated results since the CWS/CRS merger, like-for-like sales rose by 7% during the 24 weeks to 29 June, while overall like-for-like sales rose modestly at 3.9%, in line with the sector average.

The Co-op has purchased two small regional chains during the period under review, and is shortly expected to announce it is buying Alldays, the beleaguered convenience store chain, for approximately £150m (US$235.0m).

The larger superstores performed most weakly. The Co-op has already sold some of its out-of-town and edge-of-town superstores and may well be planning to offload more.

It is understood that a medium-term target for return on capital is 10%. Although the funeral and retail units are already in double digits, the farming activities drag down the group, reported the Financial Times.