Britain's M&S feels heat from mild October as sales stumble

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In the United Kingdom and Ireland, like-for-like sales are up 2.3% in the 19 weeks to 6 January as lost tobacco sales held back further growth.

Tesco has reported a "strong" third quarter, with like-for-like sales in the United Kingdom and Ireland up by 2.3 per cent.

Irish sales for the third quarter rose by 3.3%.

However, the supermarket giant said the collapse of Palmer & Harvey did impact tobacco sales during the period.

Britain's biggest retailer Tesco celebrated a record Christmas after reporting a steep rise in sales over the critical festive trading period.

The retailer hailed a "strong" third-quarter performance in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, with United Kingdom like-for-like sales up 2.3% in the period and 1.9% over the Christmas trading season.

Strong turkey sales for Sainsbury's and Lidl come as British supermarkets report financial results covering the Christmas period.

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CEO Dave Lewis' strategy implementation is yielding results - 2017 saw strongest Christmas sales since former head Leahy's departure in 2010 - however the negative reaction stems from United Kingdom like-for-like sales during the key period coming in at 1.9%, well shy of 2.8% consensus, weaker than even the lowest estimate of 2.0%.

It is also good news for the retailer after facing controversy over its £3.7 billion acquisition of wholesaler and convenience store operator Booker - which was given the final approval from the Competitions and Market Authority just before Christmas. Growth was recorded across all channels, with LFL sales growth of 1.8% in Extra hypermarkets, 2.3% in Express convenience stores and over 5% Online.

"Price investment before Christmas and a strong performance from seasonal lines helped late trading", Rowe commented.

Taking the 19 week period as a whole, LFL sales in Central Europe, rose 0.6%, and fell 11.1% in Asia.

"In our food business, ongoing trading pressures continued in the lead up to Christmas as consumer spending and choices reflected tighter budgets", he added.

To the other end of the market and Waitrose - part of the John Lewis Partnership - reported gross sales of £928mln, up 1.5% versus a year ago on a like-for-like basis.