Tesco has reported a modest rise of 1.5% in pre-tax profits to £1.42bn, as like-for-like sales in the UK edged up by just under 3%.
UK sales rose to £20.7bn in six months to 29 August – an increase of 2.8% year-on-year and a rise of 2.7% on a like-for-like basis. Including Tesco’s 13 overseas markets, sales were up 8.3% to £30.4bn.
Tesco claimed its much-publicised Clubcard push, as well as low prices and its discounter brands, had helped it to win share from the discounters and improve its performance relative to its competitors.
“Our UK business is delivering solid growth and improving volumes,” said chief executive Sir Terry Leahy. “[We have] improved the shopping trip for customers by investing in consistent value they can trust and rewarding their loyalty through Clubcard – whilst at the same time delivering a robust financial performance.”
Tesco said improved growth in its Finest range reflected growing customer confidence. Like-for-like sales of non-food in the UK were up 4.9% in the period, with electrical goods proving particularly popular.
During the period Tesco added 800,000 sq ft of new space. It opened 87 stores, including its thousandth Express store, and said it was was on track to open a further 1.2m sq ft of space in the next six months.
Meanwhile, the UK's largest retailer is banking on a bumper Christmas following the August relaunch of Clubcard. Leahy said customers would receive their first vouchers in late November since Tesco doubled the number of points to boost loyalty. An extra million customers had signed up since the relaunch, he said.
“[Christmas] will be strong in Tesco because customers will be receiving the boost of double points in their mailing and that will help Tesco customers have a good Christmas,” he said. “It bodes well for sales and volume.”
Meanwhile, its finance arm, Tesco Personal Finance, is to be renamed Tesco Bank.