Co-op profits surge after Somerfield deal

THE Co-operative group is to pay a bumper dividend after its profits jumped 85 per cent in 2009.

Buying Somerfield helped the Co-op record a £402m profit while revenues surged by almost a third.

Dividends totalling £55m will be dished out to its members as a result of the profits hike.

The group merged its financial services business with Britannia as well as acquiring Somerfield in what chairman Peter Marks dubbed an “historic year”.

However, he warned: "We expect the economic pressures to continue until the end of this year or the first half of 2011."

The Co-op, which has around five million members and also runs Britain's third largest retail pharmacy chain as well as the number one provider of funeral services.

Group sales rose 31 per cent to £13.7bn.