By Jonathan Davies

The Co-operative Group returned to a profit in the first half of the year, but is already predicting lower annual profits than last year.

The Co-op Group reported a £36 million profit in the first half of 2015, compared with a £9m loss in the same period last year.

The company said "robust trading" in its food and funeral businesses were behind the rise in profits for the six month period.

But it has already warned that increased investment will mean full-year profits falling below 2014 levels.

"We've made a good start on the three year journey to rebuild the Co-operative Group," said chief executive Richard Pennycook.

"These early days are about fixing the basics - putting in place new leadership teams and providing the investment to deliver the strategies for our businesses. Our customers and members are beginning to see the difference.

In 2013, the Co-op Group posted a £2.5 billion loss after a £1.5bn black hole was found in the Co-op Bank's finances. The group now owns just 20% of the bank.