Resurgent Tesco's sales increase two quarters in a row
Tesco's recovery under chief executive Dave Lewis has continued to gain momentum, with the supermarket notching up its second consecutive quarter of UK sales growth.
Like-for-like sales in the first quarter of the year rose by 0.3%, after a 0.9% rise in the previous period. It is the first time in more than five years that Tesco, which has around 50 stores in Northern Ireland, has reported two back-to-back quarters of UK sales growth.
The company has announced that it is selling its Harris + Hoole coffee chain to Caffe Nero in the latest of a series of disposals as it focuses on its core supermarket business.
It is also selling off its Dobbies chain of garden centres - including Dobbies' only Northern Ireland unit in Lisburn.
Mr Lewis said: "We have delivered a second quarter of positive like-for-like sales growth across all parts of the group in what remains a challenging market with sustained deflation.
"In both the UK and internationally, we are putting customers at the centre of everything we do and re-configuring our business to serve them a little better every day.
"Our new fresh food brands are performing very well, with over two-thirds of our customers having bought products from the new range."
The supermarket said that, by its own measure, customer satisfaction had improved by 2% since the start of the year.
It added that the launch of seven new fresh food brands in March had helped meet customers' needs and removed "any reasons for them to shop elsewhere".
Tesco announced a programme of store closures last year, as well as the abandonment of sites earmarked for new developments.
The closures included Ballymena's Tesco Express and supermarkets on Belfast's Cregagh Road and at Connswater shopping centre. It also abandoned plans for new builds in Carryduff and Armagh.
There was progress for one former Tesco when housing association Clanmil announced plans to build 56 family homes on the supermarket giant's former site in Carnmoney. A planning application is to be submitted next month.