The UK’s largest mutual retailer The Co-operative Group posted record full-year results today (6 May), boosted by the success of its huge store modernisation programme.

The company, which recently completed its acquisition of Somerfield, recorded pre-tax profits of GBP218m (US$328.9m) – an 11% increase on 2008.

For the 12 months ended 10 January, group sales rose 13% to GBP9.36bn over the year, helped by the refurbishment of 700 stores last year.

Peter Marks, chief executive said: “These are record results from a rejuvenated Co-operative Group. The last year has seen us significantly improve sales and profitability while also laying solid foundations for the reinvigoration and renaissance of the wider co-operative movement with the acquisition of Somerfield and the agreement to merge our financial services business with the Britannia Building Society.”

Operating income for the period increased 59.7% to reach GBP275.4m, while the company’s food sector posted an increase in turnover of 23% to reach GBP4.5bn. The figure was boosted by like-for-like sales growth of 5%.

Marks added: “At a time when the economy is struggling and many business models are coming under intense pressure, we truly believe that The Co-operative Group is coming into its own.

“The outlook for the consumer economy remains uncertain but we are confident we are well placed to make continued progress in our financial year.”

The group said it has plans to invest in price following the completion of the deal to buy Somerfield.