Tesco has reported an 11.8% increase in full-year underlying pre-tax profit to £2.8bn and insists that its US c-store venture Fresh & Easy is “growing strongly”.

Group sales for the year to 23 February rose 11.1% to £51.8bn, with core UK sales up 6.7% at £37.9bn.

UK like-for-like sales for the year were up 3.5% excluding petrol, and up over 4% in the first five weeks of the new financial year.

However, Tesco said a combination of recovering competitors and more subdued customer demand in some non-food product categories had held back sales progress in the second half of the year.

International sales rose 25.3% to £13.8bn and Tesco revealed 50% of its group trading profit now came from its international operations.

Tesco also moved to quash rumours that its US venture Fresh & Easy was struggling. The concept was well received by customers and was growing strongly, the retailer said.

“The response of customers to our offer has surpassed expectations. Sales are ahead of budget and sales densities are already higher than the US supermarket industry average with our best stores exceeding $20 per square foot per week,” Tesco said.

CEO Terry Leahy added: “We begin the new financial year confidently with a good start in the UK, excellent progress in our established international markets and promising early performances form our investments in future growth, particularly in the US, China and Turkey.”

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