The Midcounties Co-operative has posted a 34% increase in trading profit for the first half of the year.

The group's food sales for the six-month period rose 6.4% as shoppers supported responsible retailers, chief executive Ben Reid said.

"More people are reassessing their spending habits and placing greater emphasis on the ethical values of service providers," he commented.

However, the next 12 months would be difficult, he warned.

"I can only foresee that 2011 will be another tough year with all of the predicted public sector cuts underway. Sales growth will be hard to achieve but that will be our focus."

The Heart of England Co-operative also reported strong interim results. The society revealed a record 3.1% increase in like-for-like sales for the 21 weeks to June 12 across its 55 stores.

Group chief executive Ali Kurji said the past 12 months had been the toughest since the start of the recession, but he remained confident that by continuing to invest in Co-op stores and staff, the business would continue to thrive.