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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 December 2007, 14:24 GMT
Tesco bucking slower sales trend
Shoppers in one of Tesco's new US stores
Tesco saw foreign sales rise 25%, boosted by strong Asian growth
Tesco has reported improved sales growth in the UK, countering fears that tougher economic conditions are forcing consumers to cut back spending.

The supermarket giant saw third-quarter like-for-like sales - which exclude new stores - at its UK stores rise 4.8%, up from 2.7% in the first half of 2007.

Other retailers and leisure firms have reported slowing sales in recent days.

Higher interest rates and evidence of a slowdown in house price growth have hurt consumer sentiment, analysts said.

Steady growth

Tesco said it was "pleased" with its performance, noting that price inflation was holding steady.

Prices rose 0.8% over the 13 weeks to 24 November, down from 0.9% growth in the first half of the year.

The UK has again done well, with good growth in our core food categories
Terry Leahy, Tesco chief executive

The rising cost of basic foodstuffs has prompted some retailers and fast food chains, including Domino's Pizzas, to increase their prices.

Total sales over the period - including from its international business - rose 11.8% - up from the 9.2% increase seen in the first half.

"We have maintained pleasing progress," said chief executive Terry Leahy.

"The UK has again done well, with good growth in our core food categories."

Foreign success

Tesco's growth was again driven by its international business with sales in Asia - where Tesco is strong in Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan - rising by 29%.

Tesco added that its newly-opened Fresh & Easy stores in the US had been "well-received" by customers.

It is planning a major expansion of the store chain.

Richard Hunter, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said that the latest figures showed the "Tesco juggernaut continued to fire on all cylinders".



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