Lincolnshire Co-op has announced a 6.8% rise in annual sales at its food stores, driven by chilled, food to go and significant growth in local products.

In the 2016/17 financial year, the society’s total sales rose by 3.5% to £312m. Group trading surplus totalled £16m, down from the £20m recorded in the previous year due to cuts to NHS pharmacy income and rising pension costs.

The society attributed growth in food stores to the introduction of more chilled food and food-to-go products, plus an extensive refurbishment programme.

Sales of Lincolnshire Co-op’s own Love Local range went up by 22%. “These products from smaller, regional producers now share shelf space with other items of their type making it even easier for customers to buy products from the area,” a spokeswoman said.

Lincolnshire Co-op chief executive Ursula Lidbetter said: “There is no doubt that trading conditions are tough out there in many areas of our business.

“It’s testament to our dedicated colleagues and the support of our members that together, we’ve achieved another strong trading result.”

Under its Community Champions scheme, which links dividend card holders to good causes near them, over £663,000 was given away including £290,000 of support to homeless charities, £144,000 to hospices, £126,000 to green spaces and £103,000 to local good causes.