Tesco profits surge as online orders double

Business

Supermarket giant Tesco has seen first-half profits rise by more than a quarter as customers bought more food during the pandemic.

Pre-tax profit for the 26 weeks to 29 August was £551m, 28.7% up on 2019.

With more customers turning to online shopping, the firm more than doubled delivery capacity to 1.5 million slots a week, including serving 674,000 vulnerable customers, it said.

While demand for food rose, clothing fared less well, with sales down 17.2%.

It is Tesco’s first set of results under its new chief executive, Ken Murphy, who started last week.

He replaces Dave Lewis, who had been running the UK’s biggest retailer since 2014.

Like many of its rivals, Tesco was forced to overhaul its strategy in-store and online amid the coronavirus lockdown.

Mr Murphy said: “The first half of this year has tested our business in ways we had never imagined, and our colleagues have risen brilliantly to every challenge, acting in the best interests of our customers and local communities throughout.

“I would like to thank all our colleagues for their amazing contribution and I am delighted and proud to be part of such an incredible team.”

Online boost

Operating profit figures told a different story, however, falling 15.6% to £1.037bn. One of the items dragging down the balance sheet was Tesco Bank, which made a loss of £155m.

Tesco said sales in the UK and Ireland rose 8.6% to £24.3bn, with overall revenue of £28.7bn. But it added that coronavirus-related costs had hit £533m.

UK food sales went up 9.2% during the period, the retailer said.

The supermarket said it was increasing its interim dividend by 21% to 3.2p a share.

It also named a new chief financial officer, Imran Nawaz, who is joining from Tate & Lyle. He will succeed Alan Stewart, who is retiring in April.

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