UK Co-op's profit rises on strong food performance

LONDON, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Britain’s Co-Operative Group , the mutually-owned supermarkets-to-funerals group, reported an 86 percent rise in first-half profit, driven by a strong food sales performance and the purchase of the Nisa convenience chain.

The country’s biggest mutual group, which also operates legal services and insurance businesses, said pretax profit was 26 million pounds ($34 million) in the 26 weeks to July 7, up from 14 million pounds in the same period last year.

Group sales rose 10 percent to 5 billion pounds.

Food retail like-for-like sales rose 4.4 percent and the Co-op has now enjoyed 18 straight quarters of underlying sales growth. ($1 = 0.7627 pounds) (Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Paul Sandle)