Co-op sales surge after price war

THE Co-operative Group's like-for-like sales rose almost 5 per cent after slashing prices in a battle with its rivals over Christmas.

The UK's fifth biggest food retailer – which now has 3,000 stores after buying Somerfield last year – was boosted by a massive advertising campaign and overhaul of brands.

Like-for-like sales – including VAT but excluding fuel – increased by 4.8 per cent in the 12 weeks to 2 January.

The rise was five per cent higher than that in the final three weeks as shoppers prepared for the festive season.

Sales of Champagne were up by 83 per cent during the splurge.

Chief executive Peter Marks said: "These results represent another strong trading performance from our food business in an increasingly competitive market and a difficult economic climate."

Meanwhile discount store Poundland's Christmas sales were up by a third after it opened more stores and the chain continued to attract new customers.

The company employs 7,000 people at 254 stores, having opened 49 shops in the period since the start of April.

It is planning to open a new shop every week.