Tesco has announced sales and profits for the first-half year are ahead of market forecasts, and it says it plans to record strong results for the rest of the year.

Underlying pre-tax profit for the supermarket group was up by 24.4% to £822m for the six months to 14 August 2004, and sales were up 12.2% to £16.5bn.

In the UK the company recorded sales up by 11.5% to £13.1bn with underlying operating profit up by 13.3% to £707m. In addition, like-for-like sales in the UK were up by 8.3%.

Tesco reported strong growth in its UK non-food section with sales up 17%, including clothing growth of 39% and home entertainment growth of 26%.

Internationally, sales were up by 14.9% to £3.4bn and operating profit was u 42.9% to £140m. These results were aided by its acquisition of a 50% holding in Ting Hsin’s Hymall 25-store hypermarket business in China.

Terry Leahy, Tesco’s chief executive, says: “These results demonstrate the growing success of the four-part strategy we began seven years ago. I am particularly pleased about the way we have done it - this year we have cut our prices by £5m a week, we are creating 20,000 jobs, our efficiency savings will hit £270m and we are improving returns for shareholders.”