The Midcounties Co-operative has reported a Christmas sales boost, as like-for-like sales increased by 3.6% across its food stores for the three weeks to December 31.

The UK’s largest independent Co-operative attributed the strong sales performance to an increased availability of locally-produced products, with the new Co-op own-label ranges contributing to increasing sales in the run up to Christmas.

Sales of Midcounties Co-op’s own Best of Our Counties range also increased by 42% compared to the previous year. The range includes fresh produce from Warwickshire’s Mudwall Farm and creations from local producers, such as Whisky Beer from Chase Distillery and Hobson’s Brewery.

The organisation also said that an enhanced range of unique offers for members such as the Diamond Day Discount scheme also helped to achieve an increased share of Christmas grocery shopping.

In 2016, the retailer began a three-year £30m store investment programme which included the development of new formats for its supermarkets and convenience stores.

Phil Ponsonby, deputy chief executive of The Midcounties Co-operative, said: “We’ve improved our product range with our own locally sourced products and the new Co-op branded range getting a good response from customers. We are extremely grateful to our hard working store teams for producing these fantastic results.”

Midcounties introduced its Customer First initiative in 2016 to improve the customer experience within its stores.

“Through our Customer First initiative, we’ve put our customers at the heart of our reinvestment programme. The layout of our refurbished stores supports shopper buying patterns, with merchandising that more easily allows people to shop for now, tonight and later.

“We have been particularly pleased with the results of our new format stores which are attracting new customers and increasing the share of spend from existing shoppers. We have seen sales increases of up to 40% which is testament to the popularity of these new format stores and improved customer service,” added Ponsonby.