National: Tesco upbeat despite further decline in UK sales
UNDER-pressure supermarket giant Tesco posted another fall in UK sales today but said its performance had been robust as it battles to revive its fortunes.
The UK’s biggest retailer, which operates 2,800 stores, said like-for-like sales fell 1.5% in the 13 weeks to May 26, slightly better than the 1.6% decline in the previous quarter.
But the group said it gained share from its rivals in a declining grocery market, helped by the addition of 4,300 extra staff and the overhaul of 100 stores.
And it said it had just enjoyed its best ever week outside of Christmas amid the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, with more than �1billion of sales, but this was not included in the latest quarter figures.
Chief executive Philip Clarke said: “Our customers are seeing the evidence of the changes we’re making and they’re telling us they like what they see.”
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Tesco kept its profits outlook for the year ahead unchanged, reassuring investors after the chain’s first profits warning in 20 years in January.
Clive Black, a leading retail analyst at Shore Capital, said: “We see this as a steady statement suggesting stabilisation is coming through in the UK.”
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Mr Clarke launched his turnaround plan this year after admitting Tesco needed to sharpen up its pricing and customer service and that stores had become jaded and tired.
It has already given 145,000 staff specialist training, improved the offers through its Clubcard scheme and relaunched its Value range as Everyday Value with more colourful packaging.
Mr Clarke added: “We are rapidly implementing our six-point UK plan and I’m particularly proud of the relaunch of our Everyday Value range and the fact we have now put extra staff into 700 of our stores - in 500 of them within the last three weeks alone.”
He said the group’s sales overseas proved resilient, despite battling slowing economic growth in China and the eurozone debt crisis.