Tesco has announced a 3.7% increase in UK like-for-like sales, but strong growth in its international operations saw global sales rise 14% and pre-tax profits were up 11.3%.

First-half operating profits in the UK were up by 14% from £1.06bn for the 26 weeks to 23 August to a new mark of £1.21bn, against total domestic sales of £20.12bn.

Growth in non-food slowed to 4%, down from 8% for the second half of last year.

Global sales, meanwhile, increased by just over 14% , reaching a new high of £28.1bn, up from £24.6bn for the equivalent period last year.

Tesco's US arm, Fresh & Easy, launched last year, posted start-up and exceptional losses of £60m against total sales of £76m.

“Tesco is at its best in tough markets, responding to the changing needs of customers, and that's why we have been able to make good progress this year, despite facing into powerful economic headwinds and carrying planned start-up losses in the US," said chief executive Terry Leahy.

“Our business is strong, broadly-based, increasingly international and, I believe, well-placed not just to cope with the challenges [that] lie ahead but also to grasp the growth opportunities open to us by continuing to invest in our strategy.”

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