RETAIL UPDATE: Tesco has solid start to the year

But profit growth is slowest in 15 years, with like for like sales up just three per cent in 2008.
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Supermarket giant Tesco has reported results for the 53 weeks ending February 28th 2009, and also showed a solid start to the new financial year.

Group sales stood at £59.4 billion, an increase of 15.1 per cent, while there was a ten per cent increase in underlying profit before tax and a 12.4 per cent rise in group trading profit.

The chain also revealed 12 per cent (ex-petrol) growth in group sales, including an increase in UK like for like sales of 3.4 per cent in the first six weeks of 2009.

Terry Leahy, Tesco chief executive, said: "At a time when customers everywhere are feeling the economic strain, we are responding to their changing needs in all our markets by lowering prices, introducing more affordable products and offering even sharper promotions.

"These actions, combined with our core strengths, are helping us to cope well with the effects of the downturn."

However, consultant to the retail sector, Steve Gates, MD of The Gap Partnership, said that Tesco's slice of the supermarket sector is slipping, with the reported profit growth its slowest in 15 years.

The three per cent growth in like for like sales was also below the seven per cent rise reported by rivals Asda and Morrisons.

"Asda and Morrisons have adopted a longer term strategy to deliver discounted lines for consumers," said Gates. "Whilst price is an important negotiating point, it is not the only one. To deliver consumer value and increase market share, Asda and Morrisons have collaborated with their suppliers to unearth new areas of savings using other variables such as terms of business, cash, risk and investment."


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