Tesco has broken through the 30% market share barrier for the first time, according to exclusive new figures for The Grocer.
The revelation comes just days before Britain’s biggest retailer is expected to post a profit of more than £2bn for the first time.
ACNielsen’s latest monthly TradeTrak data shows that Tesco has added almost a full percentage point to its share of the grocery retail market in the last three months to cut itself a record 30.2% slice of total trade, while Asda - which last week announced a £100m round of price cuts - dropped almost two percentage points to record a disappointing 16.6%.
Sainsbury, enjoying a recovery after last month announcing that its fourth-quarter sales were up 1.7%, saw its share of the market climb 0.5% to 16.1%.
Morrisons’ difficulties appear to be continuing, with the chain posting a 12.9% share of the total market in the last 12 weeks including its Safeway stores, down from 13.2% in the last quarter under review.
Outside the top four, Somerfield enjoyed its highest shopper penetration for four years to lift it above Waitrose.
Analysts this week insisted it had always been a matter of when, not if, Tesco broke through the 30% share of trade barrier.
Clive Black, head of research at Shore Capital, said: “In simple terms, Tesco is just very good at what it does and is better than most of its main competitors in almost every department.”
Mike Watkins, manager of retailer services at ACNielsen, said Tesco could thank strong trading in its hypermarkets for its latest surge in sales.
“Hypermarket formats are growing sales by 9% at the moment, compared with only 2.6% for the total market, so this is where the greatest growth is coming from. But Tesco is also clearly still firing on all cylinders with its multi-format offering.”
Black said Tesco still had a “big pipeline” of stores to open in the UK and added that it had still barely scratched the surface in many areas of its business.
“Internationally, we expect it to make a £380m profit this year and by 2009 that should rise to £700m. That sort of performance is before you even start talking about other initiatives such as Tesco Mobile and the like.”
Jonathan Church, Tesco’s external communications manager, said the retailer was now more interested in looking at its performance in terms of the total retail market, where it holds around a 12.5% share, and not just grocery.
“We are a much broader retailer now than just food and in so many different markets.”
* Tesco announces its results on Tuesday (April 12). For all the latest breaking news see www.thegrocer.co.uk
Simon Mowbray