Tesco reports jump in sales

Tesco store

Supermarket giant Tesco says it is continuing to beat the downturn after revealing a 4.3% jump in sales during the first three months of the year.

Britain's biggest retailer explains the "solid" performance - up from 3.7% in the final quarter of 2008 - as reflecting strong sales of toys, homeware and gardening equipment.

Total group sales for the 4,300-strong store chain, which reported full-year profits of £2.95 billion in April, climbed 9.7% in the 13 weeks to 30 May.

Outside the UK, a weak pound helped to lift sales in the 13 other countries in which it operates by 11.4% at constant rates. A stronger performance from its Asian stores helped to offset tougher trading in some of its continental European markets.

Sir Terry Leahy, chief executive of Tesco, says: "We've made a solid start to the financial year, maintaining good momentum in a challenging economic climate. We are also keeping a strong focus through the downturn on our long-term strategic objectives."

Despite the rise in sales, Tesco's performance still lags behind that of its competitors. Morrison's recently reported a 7.3% jump in quarter one sales over the same period as cash strapped consumers went on the hunt for cheaper food ranges.

And Sainsbury's is expected to report a 7.3% rise in like-for-like sales when it reveals its financial results tomorrow.

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