The UK’s Cooperative Group has reported a 49% rise in first-half group operating profit, helped by its food retailing business.

The retailer operates more than 1,700 shops across the UK, most of which are smaller convenience stores. The Co-op said its Welcome convenience stores posted a 75% rise in first-half profit to £45.8m (US$75.9m), while sales rose 27% to £1.4bn.

Group operating profit before exceptionals increased 49% to £169.7m in the first half to end-June, compared to the year-ago period. Like-for-like sales increased 4% in the first half, reported Reuters.