The Co-operative food business delivered a 0.4% increase in like-for-like sales overall for the 52 weeks ended 3 January 2015. 

In a “robust” performance, like-for-like sales were up 3.2% in the core convenience estate, which has been a focus, while underlying profits increased 1.5% to £251m. The group acquired 82 new convenience stores and refurbished more than 700 stores. Prices were lowered across 40 categories and investment in own-brand products continued, with more than 170 awards won during the year.

Bosses expect the market to remain competitive, but the group will continue with its True North strategy and aims to acquire 100 new convenience stores and refit 255 existing stores.

Richard Pennycook, chief executive, said: “We made solid progress in 2014 as we successfully concluded the rescue phase of our turnaround. The hard work of rebuilding The Co-operative Group for the next generation, and restoring it to its rightful place at the heart of communities up and down the UK, is now under way.”

Allan Leighton, independent non-executive chair, said: “I am putting together a board that will be firmly focused on the tough job ahead of rebuilding The Co-operative, underpinned by the far-reaching governance reforms introduced in 2014.”