The Co-operative Group has posted a 2.1% drop in full-year like-for-like food sales.

The figures, for the year to 31 December, are a marked improvement on the society’s half-year trading, which showed a 3.6% decline in like-for-likes

Co-op Group CEO Peter Marks said like-for-likes had been down by just 0.7% in the third quarter of 2011 and by 0.2% in the fourth quarter.

However, food profits fell 20% to £309.4m during the period following significant investment during the year, including £110m on two new distribution centres, £12.5m on new systems and £11m on energy initiatives.

Group profits fell 5.8% to £373m during the period, on group sales down 1% at £13.3bn.

“Over the past year we have invested in the services, systems and infrastructure we need to deliver real value to our customers while setting out to realise the true potential of our vast, diverse customer base and our strong family of businesses. We have also invested significantly in discounts and special offers for our customers,” Marks added.

“The Co-op Group is in better shape than ever before because of all the work done over the past five years. Our ownership model means that we can take a long-term view and we are as driven, determined and ambitious as ever to modernise our business.”