OXFORDSHIRE telecoms firm The Phone Co-op has reported a major boost to its fortunes.

Profit before distributions at the Chipping Norton-based firm was a record £555,000, up 31 per cent compared with the previous year.

As a result, the customer-owned firm will recommend a rise in the dividend for its 10,000 members from two per cent to 2.5 per cent of eligible sales at its annual meeting in February.

The consumer co-operative reported a rise in its sales, boosted by significant growth in its mobile business, a trend its board expects will continue.

Founder and chief executive Vivian Woodell said: “It’s been a challenging year for both the co-operative movement and the telecommunications industry so we are delighted to be able to report such good results.

“As a customer-owned co-operative, we’re pleased we have increased our membership which means more people are benefiting.”

Mr Woodell added that members have also increased their investments in The Phone Co-op to more than £4m and there are now reserves of more than £1m.

He said: “We see this as evidence that consumer co-operatives, with their strong member backing, can grow organically in a highly competitive marketplace.”

As well as telecommunications, The Phone Co-op continued its diversification into renewable energy, with three further large-scale solar projects completed in February 2013.

“In the year ahead, our focus will shift to growth,” said Mr Woodell, “We have a number of important projects under way.”