UK sales flat for Tesco

Tesco has this morning reported strong sales growth overseas for the first three months of its financial year, but said that the UK remains flat.

Group sales were up 7.3% versus a year ago, excluding petrol, driven by international demand – notably in Thailand (up 8%), China (+6.4%) and Eastern Europe.

In contrast, UK like-for-like sales excluding petrol and the effect of VAT fell by 0.1%. However, this was a slight improvement on a 0.7% decline in its previous quarter.

Tesco blamed the “cautious consumer environment” and crippling high fuel costs for the weak growth figure, but said that it was still doing better than rivals.

The firm pointed to an “excellent performance” in newly opened stores – which are excluded from the like-for-like figures and sales of its ‘Finest’ food range rose by 10%.

Recently installed chief executive Philip Clarke said: “Tesco has made a good start to the new financial year, despite consumer sentiment in many of our key markets remaining subdued.

“Uncertainties remain, but with early, encouraging signs of better performance emerging in both the UK and US, I am confidence that this start will provide the platform for another year of growth.”