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Tesco, Britain’s biggest retailer, reported a sharp slowdown in underlying U.K. sales growth in its first quarter, reflecting a tough comparison with the same quarter last year when the country was in the grip of its first Covid-19 lockdown.
The group said U.K. like-for-like sales, excluding fuel and VAT sales tax, rose 0.5% in the 13 weeks to May 29 – ahead of analysts’ average forecast of a fall of 1.0% but down from growth of 8.8% in the previous quarter.
Comparing the quarter with the same quarter in 2019, before the pandemic impacted trading, U.K. like-for-like sales were up 9.3%.
Tesco, which has a 27% share of Britain’s grocery market, maintained its profit guidance for the full 2021-22 year.
“While the market outlook remains uncertain, I’m pleased with the strong start we’ve made to the year and continue to be excited about the many opportunities we have to create value over the longer term,” said Chief Executive Ken Murphy.
Tesco has guided to full year retail operating profit on a continuing operations basis in 2021-22 to be at a similar level to 2019-20’s outcome.