Petrol sales fuel Tesco surge

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The Independent Online

Tesco showed no sign of letting its dominance of the supermarket sector slip today after unveiling strong sales figures for the autumn period.

Tesco showed no sign of letting its dominance of the supermarket sector slip today after unveiling strong sales figures for the autumn period.

The group said total sales in the UK grew by 12.3 per cent in the 14 weeks to November 20, helped by like-for-like growth of 9.8 per cent and a 2.5 per cent boost from new stores.

With at least £150 million of price cuts made so far this financial year, Tesco added that its stores had seen deflation for a second successive quarter.

The performance comes two months after the Hertfordshire-based group beat market expectations with a 24 per cent rise in half-year profits to £822 million.

Strong growth in non-grocery areas such as clothing and DVDs helped those interim results and a spokesman added today that figures had been further lifted by a positive reception to its new value range of kitchen products.

Petrol volumes also grew "exceptionally strongly" after Tesco said it sought to keep pump prices low during a time of rising oil costs.

Stripping out petrol, like-for-like sales were up 7.5 per cent during the period - well in line with the company's recent sales trend.

Tesco added that its international operations continued to make progress with sales up 18.2 per cent at constant exchange rates and by 11.9 per cent on a reported basis.

With operations in 12 countries, including Hungary, Poland, Taiwan and Japan, Tesco said it expected new store openings to provide further growth overseas.

Across the group, sales were up by 12.2 per cent during the third quarter with the improved performance at the company's 780 UK stores achieved during one of the most competitive environments seen by retailers for years.

Price cuts by the group have driven that trend with its expansion into non-food areas underlined by expectations that it will sell as many as 40,000 digital cameras in December.

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