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Tesco annual profits fall again amid UK sales decline

Tesco's annual profits have fallen for the second year in succession while latest UK sales figures showed a worsening decline, putting renewed pressure on embattled chief executive Philip Clarke.

Underlying pre-tax profits at Britain's biggest supermarket were down 6.9% to £3.05 billion for the year to February 22 while like-for-like sales dipped by 3% in the fourth quarter, the group said.

Tesco admitted that it had done worse than expected amid increasingly tough competition, saying: "Our performance in the year was not where we had planned it to be." Like-for-like sales for the year in the UK were down 1.4%.

The supermarket warned that the challenging environment would continue in the current financial year.

It also revealed a one-off charge of £801 million mainly relating to a write-down of assets in Europe, as well as a £540 million impairment relating to its Chinese business.

Group trading profit was down 6% to £3.3 billion while statutory profit before tax was up 9.8% to £2.3 billion, reflecting the impact of one-off charges in this year and last year's results.

Mr Clarke said: "Our results today reflect the challenges we face in a trading environment which is changing more rapidly than ever before. We are determined to lead the industry in this period of change."

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