Tesco profits soar as shoppers stock up on groceries and online orders double

UK’s biggest retailer just had its busiest ever week for online sales

Ben Chapman@b_c_chapman
Wednesday 07 October 2020 12:45
Tesco ‘s UK and Ireland sales jumped 8 per cent in the first half of its financial year
Tesco ‘s UK and Ireland sales jumped 8 per cent in the first half of its financial year

Tesco's profits soared by more than a quarter in the first half of the year as households stocked up on groceries during the pandemic.

The UK's largest retailer generated pre-tax profit of £551m despite spending more than half a billion to respond to Covid-19.

The costs were offset by a £249m benefit as the government suspended business rates payments, Tesco said.

UK and Ireland supermarket sales climbed 8.6 per cent to £24.3 billion, taking total revenues to £28.7bn.

The strong results made a good start for new boss Ken Murphy, who took over the top job from Dave Lewis last week.

Mr Murphy's first week in the job also happened to be Tesco's best ever seven-day period for online sales.

The chief executive said: "Clearly there's been a massive shift online, and we think that a significant proportion of that will be maintained for the foreseeable future.

"This is less about me making my mark and much more about delivering for customers."

Asked for examples of initiatives he is excited for Tesco to roll out, he replied: "You will see them show up at some stage in stores and then we can talk about them in more depth."

"My job is to retain momentum, and keep us focused on delivering a brilliant Christmas."

Under former boss Dave Lewis, Tesco focused on its core UK and Ireland business after a series of international adventures failed to pay off.

Tesco is currently in the process of selling its stores in Thailand, Malaysia and Poland, but Mr Murphy said there was "no plan for further retrenchment".

Tesco plans to start hiring around 11,000 temporary workers this month for the festive season.

The business has been focusing on prices in recent months, trying to out-compete rival Aldi, which has been eating into the market share of more established retailers.

Last month Tesco expanded the deals available to its Clubcard members.

Susannah Streeter, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "Tesco can still benefit from consumers tightening their belts, by pushing its value range offers in store."

Additional reporting by PA Media

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