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Tesco and Mulberry report online sales boosts

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Supermarket Tesco said its UK online sales were up by nearly 10% in the third quarter of its financial year. The news, it said, reflected strong growth in its non-food online retailing arm, Tesco Direct.

But they contrasted with like-for-like sales across its UK arm, which were down by 0.9% in the 13 weeks to November 26 when petrol and VAT were removed from the equation. Total sales, including both VAT and petrol were up by 6.7%, and across the whole of the global group, sales were up by 7.2%, including petrol and 5.4% excluding petrol, thanks to strong performances outside the UK, particularly in Asia and central Europe.

Tesco said its emphasis in the UK was on investing in lower prices for “hard-pressed families” through its The Big Price Drop. “We are now being rewarded with strong food volume growth,” said chief executive Philip Clarke. He added: “We are also seeing positive customer reaction to the improvements in our general merchandise ranges. Whilst I am pleased with these early signs of stronger performance, a great deal more remains to be done and we are confident of delivering further improvements as we implement our plans.”

Meanwhile Mulberry Group, the luxury fashion brand, revealed that online sales now accounted for 7% of its total sales.

The company said total revenues in the six months to September 30 were up by 62% at £72.3m, while pre-tax profits grew by 231% to £15.6m. It said sales through its mulberry.com website grew by 52% in the period, to £4.8m. “In addition to being a profitable and growing sales channel,” the company said, “the web is a key marketing tool for the brand.” Mulberry is currently developing a new online platform that, it said, “will give us greater functionality and creative freedom.” The project, currently at the halfway mark, will be launched the end of its next financial year.

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