Grocery cheer over Tesco’s recovery plan

Tesco's recovery plan is beginning to take effect the retailer has claimed
Tesco's recovery plan is beginning to take effect the retailer has claimed

THERE were further signs Tesco’s turnaround plan is on track yesterday, with new figures showing Britain’s biggest grocer is outpacing its three main rivals.

The supermarket giant notched up the best sales growth of the “big four” chains to hold its market share at 30.4 per cent in the 12 weeks to January 20, while Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons all lost ground.

But Tesco failed to stave off the march of the discount brands with Aldi posting the strongest supermarket sales growth of 28.2 per cent, increasing its market share from 2.5 per cent a year earlier to 3.1 per cent, while Lidl’s market share was also up to 2.7 per cent after it grew sales by 10 per cent.

At the premium end of the spectrum, Waitrose also took customers from competitors, increasing its market share from 4.4 to 4.6 per cent after an eight per cent hike in sales.

Sales at Tesco grew 3.3 per cent to £8 billion in the period, matching the rate of growth across the sector for the first time since June 2011, according to market researcher Kantar Worldpanel.

Kantar director Edward Garner said: “These positive results are a sign of stabilisation for Tesco as the retailer gets back on track with customers.”

Tesco revealed its best UK sales growth in three years over Christmas after chief executive Philip Clarke invested in a range of turnaround initiatives, including employing an extra 8,000 staff and launching its Everyday Value range.

But Mr Garner said Tesco’s improvement had put some pressure on the rest of the big four, with Morrisons posting a 1.7 per cent drop in sales, taking its market share from 12.5 per cent to 11.9 per cent.

The fourth biggest supermarket admitted it was feeling the heat from rivals in a “highly promotional” market, after posting below par Christmas sales.

Kantar said that with grocery inflation growing faster than growth in the market there was a heightened need for retailers to “deliver value for money”.

There were also signs of the revival of The Co-operative Group, which has struggled to compete with the main supermarkets, It reported a 0.9 per cent rise in sales, after declines throughout 2012.