The supermarket, which in January agreed to buy wholesaler Booker for £3.7bn, said UK like-for-like sales rose 2.3 per cent in the 13 weeks to 27 May, its fiscal first quarter – a sixth straight quarter of growth.
The outcome was ahead of analysts’ forecasts, in a range of up to 1.7-2.0 per cent, and built on growth of 0.7 per cent in the previous quarter.
Tesco said total group like-for-like sales rose 1 per cent.
“This is a good start to the year,” said chief executive Dave Lewis.
“We are confident in our plans to create long-term, sustainable value for our key stakeholders and to deliver on the ambitions we have set out.”
He stabilised the business and then got it growing again with a focus on lower prices, new and streamlined product ranges, better customer service and improved supplier relationships.
Despite the positive update, Tesco shares closed down 4.5 per cent on Friday, having fallen 13 per cent so far in 2017, reflecting concerns about a deteriorating consumer environment in Britain.
The retailers are battling a rise in inflation, caused in large part by the fall in the pound since last year’s vote to leave the European Union, and by a slowdown in wages growth.
British retail sales fell more sharply than expected in May, official data showed on Thursday, while data earlier this week showed British workers’ earnings after inflation shrinking at the fastest pace since 2014.
However, analysts reckon Tesco is not passing on as many cost increases to shoppers as its competitors, as it is increasingly able to leverage its scale.
Prior to Friday’s update, analysts’ average forecast for Tesco’s 2017-18 operating profit before exceptional items was £1.46bn, according to Reuters data, up from £1.28bn in 2016-17.