British retailer Tesco blames snow for poor sales

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Supermarket chain Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer, reported weak Christmas sales growth in its home market on Thursday, blaming the result on heavy snowfall that had gripped the nation last month.

Tesco, the world's third largest retailer after number one Wal-Mart of the United States and French supermarket giant Carrefour, however posted strong growth for its stores outside Britain, according to a trading update.

Tesco said that sales in Britain rose by only 0.6 percent in the six weeks to January 8.

Sales across all of its store, including those abroad, climbed by 7.6 percent during the same period.

"Our performance remains solid but was hindered in the run up to the important Christmas trading period in the UK by the disruptive effects of the severe winter weather conditions," Tesco chief executive Terry Leahy said.

The update is in contrast to Tesco's fierce British rival Sainsbury's, which on Wednesday said it had enjoyed record Christmas sales, claiming that its shoppers had not been put off by last month's heavy snowfall across Britain.

Tesco is facing growing pressure from Sainsbury's as Britain's biggest retailer prepares for a new chief executive.

Leahy last year said that he intends to retire in March after 14 years at the helm.

Leahy, who turned Tesco from a solid British food retailer into a global operation also selling electrical items, clothes and financial products, will be replaced by its head of Asian, European and IT operations, Philip Clarke.

© 2011 AFP

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