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Tesco has released its interim results for 2018/19, with sales in Asia reaching £2,365m, down 5.0% at constant exchange rates.
As predicted by the Tesco management, performance in Asia improved throughout the period as the business annualised its decision to stop bulk-selling. Asia LFL sales declined 9.0% in Q1 and although remaining negative, improved to -4.8% in Q2. However, it continues to see sales impacted by nearly 2% in Thailand, due to the goverments scheme of welfare cards that cannot be redeemed in modern retail chains. Profitability was down 29.1% to £100m due to the impact of sales, higher price investment and renegotiated promotional investment from suppliers into everyday low prices in Thailand, something that is expected to continue in H2.
Tesco continued to open and repurpose space in Asia in H1, opening 42,000 sq ft of net space. This included 314,000 sq ft of new space, with 39 net new stores, mainly related to new convenience store openings in Thailand. The business also closed 105,000 sq ft of space and repurposed 167,000 sq ft. Tesco repurposed nine stores in the half, the majority of which were again in Thailand, where it has formed new partnerships with third party businesses, such Mr.DIY, Echo Game & Karaoke and Cosmo Beauty.
Across the broader Tesco Group, the results were more positive with sales up 12.8% to £28.3bn, boosted by the retailers new partnership wth wholesale chain Booker in the UK.. Performance in its core, UK and ROI business, was impressive with total sales up 17.7% and LFL sales up 3.8%. While European sales declined 3.5% and 1.5% on a total and LFL basis respectively, impacted by store closures and Sunday opening hour restrictions in Poland.
Tesco CEO, Dave Lewis, commented, "We have made a good start to the year. We completed our merger with Booker in March and are delighted with performance so far. We announced a strategic alliance with Carrefour in July which goes live this month. We are firmly on track to deliver our medium-term ambitions and are continuing to improve the quality and value of our offer for customers in all of our markets."