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[LONDON] Britain's biggest retailer Tesco reported a 0.7 per cent rise in underlying Christmas sales in its home market, capping a year of recovery with a solid performance over the key festive period.
Tesco, which like its rivals has been battling with the turmoil sparked by the rise of German discounters Aldi and Lidl, said the sustained progress it was making across the group enabled it to reiterate its outlook for the full fiscal year.
The group expects to deliver at least £1.2 billion (S$2.09 billion) of group operating profit before exceptional items for the full year, the first rise in profit following five years of decline.
The results, which mirror the stable performances of rivals Sainsbury's and Morrisons, cap a year in which Tesco has started to recover from a loss of sales, profit and market share sparked by the increasing popularity of the ultra-cheap discount groups.
Helped by revamped stores, new ranges and increased staff numbers, shoppers have returned to the group, helping its shares to rise more than a third over the last year. "We are very encouraged by the sustained strong progress that we are making across the group," Chief Executive Dave Lewis said in a statement. "We are well-placed against the medium-term aspirations we outlined in October 2016." In the six weeks to Jan 7, Tesco posted an underlying sales rise in its UK stores of 0.7 per cent, in line with analyst forecasts of growth of 0.3 to 1.5 per cent.
Trading over Christmas built on UK like-for-like sales growth of 1.8 per cent for the 13 weeks to Nov. 26, Tesco's fiscal third quarter, that was also reported on Thursday, also in line with forecasts.