The Co-operative Group has revealed a decrease in underlying operating profits to £117m in its food business sector, falling from £119m last year.

The interim results, published by the group today, showed a pre-tax loss of £559m in the first half of the year, predominantly caused by loans at The Co-op Bank.

In a statement, The Co-operative said that while there are some early signs of recovery in the UK economy, for many of its customers the “outlook remains difficult” and they will continue to focus on providing value to them.

They added that, in their food business sector, they anticipate a stronger second half “as the benefits of our food strategy start to be realised in better stock availability, improvements to the customer offer and with the refit of more than 400 stores”.

Euan Sutherland, group chief executive of The Co-operative Group, said: “This has been a very difficult first half for The Co-operative Group and the results highlight both the well-documented challenges faced by The Co-operative Bank and the significant work to do at group level.”

He added that his first few months in the role have been “focused on putting in place the recovery plan for the bank”, as well as considering the changes that need to me made across the group.