Profits down for The Co-op Group

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THE worst trading conditions ‘in 40 years’ have been blamed for the drop in The Co-operative Group’s half-year profits.

The Manchester-based group, which operates food, travel, and funeral care stores in the Portsmouth area, reported a 10 per cent decline in total underlying operating profits to £275.1m in the 26 weeks to July 2.

It is a different business from The Southern Co-operative, which is based locally.

Group chief executive Peter Marks said: ‘At the full year we warned that the downturn was biting deeper than anyone had expected and predicted that challenging trading conditions would continue into 2012. This has clearly proved to be the case. Indeed, it is the worst I have seen in over 40 years of retailing and, against this backdrop, the results we are announcing are in line with our expectations.’

The group’s food business recorded sales of £3.7bn in the half year, down from £3.9bn last year, and underlying operating profits of £135.4m, down from £171.6m.