Tesco has posted a modest 2.5% rise in UK like-for-like sales for the seven weeks to 10 January, in what is likely to be the slowest rate of growth among the UK’s big four supermarkets for the key Christmas period.

Tesco said overall sales were up by 11.6%, buoyed by a strong performance overseas, where sales rose by almost a third (32.7%) for the period, including growth of 43% in Asia.

The news comes after Sainsbury’s posted like-for-like sales growth of 4.5% for the third quarter, while Nielsen data showed growth of more than 9% over Christmas at Morrisons and 6.7% at Asda.

And today discounter Aldi underlined the inroads it has made into the domestic market of late by unveiling a hike of almost 25% in UK sales for the past 12 months to £2.15bn.

“Perhaps [the downturn] has put a few percent on, but we would have had this traction with or without the economic situation,” Aldi UK boss Paul Foley told the Financial Times. “Consumers are trying something new, but it is also the style and the quality of the offer that is attractive.”

Meanwhile, former Unilever chief executive Patrick Cescau has joined Tesco as a non-executive director.

Cescau retired from the consumer goods giant on 1 January after three years at the helm, having previously held roles including foods director and chairman.

“[Cescau] is highly esteemed in the business world and brings with him many years' experience of both developed and emerging markets,” said Tesco chairman David Reid. “His international perspective and knowledge of consumer goods will be very valuable to our board.”