Tesco Irish sales rise as United Kingdom flop hits shares

Lucy Hill
January 13, 2018

A trading statement from Tesco's covering its third quarter and the Christmas period, confirms a continuation of positive like-for like sales trends.

Tesco, which is Ireland's second biggest grocery retailer in terms of the value of sales, said its like-for-like sales in Ireland climbed 3.5pc during the 19-week period.

All three major retailers alluded to difficulties in the market and tough trading conditions, with Tesco speaking of "inflationary pressures" and M&S referring to "ongoing trading pressures". It said total United Kingdom sales were more than 15% year-on-year during December.

Retail giant Marks & Spencer has revealed "mixed" festive trading after another steep fall in sales in its embattled clothing arm and disappointing trading in its food halls.

It was a record Black Friday for John Lewis, and sales at John Lewis Partnership, which includes Waitrose, rose to 2.5 percent.

The retailer's United Kingdom like-for-like sales were 1.9pc higher.

That may seem like volumes actually fell year-on-year, but Tesco said it worked hard with its suppliers which allowed it to pass on less inflation than its competitors.

"However, the impact of an unseasonal October resulted in an overall revenue decline".

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As of 08:43 GMT, Tesco's share price had given up 2.88 percent to 205.80p, underperforming the broader United Kingdom market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index now standing 0.09 percent higher at 7,755.91 points.

Chief executive Steve Rowe said that consumers were "definitely facing a squeeze on spending" as the retailer posted a 1.4pc fall in group like-for-like sales over the 13 weeks to December 30.

Its Central Europe business saw a 0.8% like-for-like sales increase, however Asia, a market in which Tesco has instigated the ceasing of bulk selling in Thailand over the past year, fell 9.6%.

The group also reported data for the third quarter, with Irish like-for-like sales rising by 3.3%.

Charles Wilson, Booker chief executive, said: "The proposed merger with Tesco is progressing as planned".

As ever, the all-important Christmas trading has brought a mixed bag of fortunes for retailers.

Sales of Tesco's exclusive fresh food brands, core Tesco range and Tesco Finest products all grew by more than four per cent in the six-week Christmas period, and as in previous years, the supermarket's seasonal offer included a "Festive 5" vegetable deal.

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