Chelmsford Star Co-op has announced an 8.6% like-for-like sales growth in its convenience stores in the half year ending 11 August.

In its interim first half results, the Essex-based society reported a 12.3% increase in like-for-like trading profit to £601,000. Overall like-for-like sales rose by 4.4%.

The strong growth in its food business was driven by significant investment “behind the scenes”, according to ceo Barry Wood.

The society refurbished three stores over the first half, with another store revamp planned for the second half of the year.

However, Wood sounded a note of caution for the second half of the financial year. “For the first time in five years, high-street shop prices have inflated. Couple this with the rise in interest rates, and as we move into the second half of the year many of us will find our disposable income severely squeezed,” he said.

Chelmsford Star, which operates 42 food stores across Essex, also confirmed that 33p in every £1 spent in any of their stores benefited the local economy during the first half.