Chelmsford Star Co-op has announced a year-on-year increase of 6.6% in gross revenue but trading profit after depreciation declined by 28.5% amid “challenging times” for the high street.

Core turnover at the society’s convenience stores increased by 2.6% on a like-for-like basis but investment in new stores and refurbishments, as well as the impact of economic factors, meant the Essex-based Co-operative posted a higher-than-expected drop in profitability.

Commenting on the results, Chelmsford Star ceo Barry Wood said: “It has been a challenging year, with retailers fighting competitively for every single retail pound. We’re holding our own in this tough environment, and it is encouraging to see that the generosity of our members and colleagues hasn’t been affected as we’ve raised more for good causes this year than in any other recorded in our 150 year history.

“With eight refits through the year, each resulting in lengthy closures, a new food-store in Woodford Green, and a new funeral home in the centre of Braintree, plus the sale of a branch in Southend and the implementation of new back-office systems, we’ve seen a lot of churn in the business. I am pleased with what our colleagues have managed to achieve, through hard work and strategic planning.”

The society operates 52 trading outlets across Essex and has raised more than £77,000 for charity in its 2017/2018 financial year. More than 75 community groups have benefitted from the fund.