Tesco shrugs off subdued market as festive sales edge higher

John Lewis

John Lewis’ managing director will step down Credit Jason Alden Bloomberg

And while United Kingdom l-f-l sales fell 0.2% over the 19-week period as a whole, Tesco's statement title of "strong performance in a subdued United Kingdom market" is spot on; considering the same figures for a similar period of -0.7% at Sainsbury's and -1.7% at Morrisons, Tesco appears head and shoulders above its Big Four rivals going into the New Year.

But things were less gloomy at High Street rival Marks & Spencer, where sales grew 0.2%.

Outgoing chief executive Dave Lewis said it sold more groceries on the day before Christmas Eve than any other day in its 100-year history.

The figures see Tesco emerge as a festive victor among the major players so far after both Morrisons and Sainsbury's posted falling sales over the Christmas season in recent days.

However, sales declined in Central Europe and Asia, bringing group like-for-like sales down by 0.9 per cent for the 19-week period.

Tesco recently said it was reviewing its operations in Thailand and Malaysia after receiving interest from potential buyers, but gave no further details on Thursday.

It posted a modest 0.1pc increase in like-for-like sales, which strip out new stores, for the six weeks to Jan 4, while third quarter revenues rose 0.4pc in the UK.

"Like-for-like sales in the Christmas period were just the right side of flat for the core British supermarkets and growth was only really achieved in the United Kingdom and Ireland thanks to the Booker wholesale business".

Shares lifted 2% after the update.

The solid performance sets Tesco up for the year ahead, when boss Lewis will step down after he revitalised the group.

Rival Sainsbury's blamed a dire toys and video games market for a hefty fall in general merchandise across its supermarket and Argos chain when it reported results on Wednesday.

"Over the Christmas period we outperformed the market in both volume and value terms with a strong performance in fresh food".

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