The Co-Operative Group said its convenience stores are outperforming Britain's grocery market as people's shopping habits change, putting the mutual organisation on a firmer footing for recovery.
The group, which also has insurance and funeral operations, reported broadly stable group revenue of £9.3bn for the year to January 2, while underlying profit before tax rose to £81m from £73m.
Like-for-like sales in its food business rose by 1.6 per cent, helped by lower prices in products like fruit and vegetables.
Earlier this week data from Kantar Worldpanel showed that the Co-operative saw sales increase by 3.9 per cent in the 12 weeks to March 27, its fastest growth since the Somerfield acquisition in 2011, increasing its market share by 0.1 percentage points to 6.1 per cent.
Kantar said that consumers have been visiting Co-op stores more frequently, especially for fresh food and own label products.
Many of its shops remained open on Easter Sunday, providing an additional opportunity to shop when many larger supermarkets were closed.