Travel agencies within Central England Co-op were the second biggest contributor to the organisation’s sales growth in the first half of the year.

Sales at the society grew by £7.7 million to £484.6 million thanks to new stores and an expanded network of 26 travel shops.

The results were published today (Friday) showing a rise in sales in the face of a “highly competitive” retail and economic environment.

The society did not break down the contribution from its travel arm but a spokesman said: “Since we opened the most recent slate of travel shops the impact on not just the travel business but the business as a whole has been massive.

“It has been the second biggest contributor to our sales growth during the past six months.”

The Staffordshire-based society made a trading profit of £11.4 million in the period as it opened four new food stores and one funeral booking office alongside the refurbishment of nine other sites.

The retailer confirmed it has plans in place to attempt to mitigate any potential impact on customers and members as a result of Brexit.

Chief executive Debbie Robinson said: “In a challenging market, our gross sales increased and trading profit is in line with budget, reflecting a steady performance for the society in the face of a highly competitive retail environment and uncertain economic backdrop.

“We remain committed to investing in our future and have opened new stores and a funeral booking office alongside refurbishing several other sites.

“In difficult times, I believe our co-operative difference will set us apart and see us thrive while others may flounder.

“Together we will grow and prosper by embracing our values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity.”

Society president Elaine Dean added: “Despite facing difficult trading conditions, our society is holding its own in a competitive and challenging market.

“The board has commenced a detailed review of our strategy with the aim of confirming our ambition to be the best UK co-operative and to be a leader in the movement when it comes to good practice.”

Central England Co-operative will report on its full year performance at the end of January 2020.