THE Co-operative Group has named Richard Pennycook as its permanent chief executive as it revealed a half-year pre-tax loss of £9 million.

Mr Pennycook, former finance director at Bradford-based Morrisons, has been stand-in boss since Euan Sutherland walked out earlier this year claiming the beleaguered food-to-funerals group was ungovernable.

He left the supermarket after eight years, during which time he was named as the UK's best finance director. He joined the Co-op as finance director, initially on an interim basis, as the business sought to beef up its top team following Mr Sutherland's departure.

Mr Pennycook was a driving force behind Morrisons' recovery from its controversial £3 billion Safeway acquisition and was widely regarded as a safe pair of hands.

The Co-op's interim results come after it reported a record £2.5 billion loss for 2013, as it was dragged down by the near-collapse of its banking arm - and days after a vote by members approved a radical shake-up in the way the group is run.

Mr Pennycook said: "I am delighted to have the chance to lead the Co-operative Group through the crucial job of rebuilding the business.

"We have taken major steps forward over the last six months, securing governance reform and repairing our balance sheet, but we have much to do to return the group to full financial health and improve the performance of our businesses."

He said the results, for the 26 weeks ending on July 5, "clearly reflect an organisation in transition".

The group's pre-tax loss compares with a pre-tax profit of £110 million for the same period last year.

But a comprehensive income figure, including earnings from discontinued operations such as the farms and pharmacy businesses it has sold as well reclassification of pensions scheme liabilities, showed a profit of £116 million.

This compared with a loss on this measure of £1 billion for the same period last year when it was pulled down by the performance of the Co-operative Bank.

The wider group now owns just 20 per cent of the lender, following a rescue which saw bondholders including US hedge funds take majority control.

Mr Pennycook said: "The Co-operative Bank and ourselves are now in a phase, having sorted out our balance sheet and our capital, where we build and are trying to restore the reputation and the image of our brands, and we go forward hand in hand to do that together."

The Co-op's food business saw a one per cent rise in like-for-like sales, with a four per cent improvement for its convenience chain.