The Co-operative Travel Group has reported a £7.9 million operating profit for the first half of the year after only breaking even in the same period last year.

The group reported “significant success” in its retail-shops division after re-branding following the merger of Travelcare and Co-op Travel in July 2007. Retail distribution director Travor Davis described the results as “tremendous”.

Managing director Mike Greenacre said: “The travel industry has had a difficult year, yet we have continued to perform throughout the travel division.”

Sales for the half year totalled almost £150 million, giving a total profit of just over £12 million – up from £2.7 million last year.

However, Greenacre expressed caution about the second half of the year, saying: “The travel industry faces huge challenges. The financial issues of the last few weeks have created major concerns about investments and savings. Continued falling house prices, increases to domestic fuel bills and the instability of the cost of oil will all also have an impact on consumers’ holiday plans. This position has been further undermined by the collapse of XL.”

Greenacre called on the government and Civil Aviation Authority to extend consumer financial protection to all forms of booking and travel following XL Leisure Group’s failure two weeks ago.

He added: “Our retail network has seen thousands of customers rebooking holidays from many of the failed XL brands citing the financial security and stability of our brand as a major factor.”