Friday 20 July 2018

Tesco's Irish sales rise amid price cuts

Tesco stock is back at a level not seen since the middle of 2014
Tesco stock is back at a level not seen since the middle of 2014
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Tesco, which regained pole position as Ireland's biggest grocery retailer earlier this month, said its like-for-like sales here jumped 3pc in the first quarter of its financial year.

That made the Irish market the best performing in the Tesco group after difficult years for the retailer during the downturn when Ireland was the laggard.

Tesco held its annual general meeting yesterday, with its robust update boosting its shares by more than 3pc during the day.

The stock is back at a level not seen since the middle of 2014, just as chief executive Dave Lewis was parachuted in to turn the business around as the grocer suffered from intense rivalry in the UK market, resulting in falling sales and plunging profits.

Soon after joining, Mr Lewis revealed the company had been overstating profits.

Tesco said its first quarter like-for-like sales in the UK rose 2.3pc, and that its performance there and in Ireland had been achieved despite adverse weather conditions at the end of February and in early March. The sales figures exclude VAT and fuel.

The group said that total sales in Ireland, at actual exchange rates, were 9.5pc higher in the first quarter of its financial year, and were up 6.8pc on a constant currency basis.

In its 2015 financial year, Tesco's Irish arm was the worst performer among the group's worldwide operations, with like-for-like sales here having slumped 6.4pc as it succumbed to competition from rivals, especially discounters such as Lidl and Aldi.

The chain said it continues to focus on improving its customer offer and is more than a quarter of the way through a relaunch of more than 10,000 own-brand products.

"Our growth plans are on track and we are pleased with the momentum in the business," said Mr Lewis. "We remain well-placed to serve our customers better and deliver on our medium-term financial ambitions.

"It's about us continuing to invest in the offer."

He said Tesco's prices in core lines had already been lowered by between 6pc and 7pc over the past three years.

Mr Lewis added that Tesco is "delighted" with the initial progress made by Booker, the UK's largest wholesaler, which Tesco acquired this year in a £4bn (€4.6bn) deal.

Tesco lost its position as Ireland's biggest grocery retailer in 2015, the first time in more than a decade that it had not topped the league.

But this month it snatched back the title, narrowly pipping Musgrave-controlled SuperValu for the accolade. Tesco now has a 22.3pc share of the market in Ireland, compared to SuperValu's 22pc, according to research group Kantar Worldpanel.

Irish Independent

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