Tesco has today (21 April) posted record pre-tax profits of £3.13bn, some 10% above the same time last year.

The preliminary results for the 53 weeks ending 28 February 2009 showed group sales (including VAT) were up 15% to £59.4bn – equivalent to over £1bn a week.

There was strong performance across the group, with UK sales up by 9.5% to £41.5bn (£37.9bn last year). Excluding petrol, like-for-like sales grew by 3.0%, with increases of 2.0% and 2.7% in the third and fourth quarters respectively.

A company statement acknowledged that the recession had forced customers to down-trade and spend less on their weekly shop, but the supermarket said it had supported this trend by cutting prices and introducing more affordable products, such as its ‘Discounter’ range.

“At a time when customers everywhere are feeling the economic strain, we are responding to their changing needs in all our markets by lowering prices, introducing more affordable products and offering even sharper promotions,” Terry Leahy, Tesco chief executive said.

“These actions, combined with our core strengths – in selling food and everyday essentials, owning our own property and having a broad business base – are helping us to cope well with the effects of the downturn.

“We have made a good start to the new financial year and I am confident Tesco will continue to make good progress even in the current global economic environment.”

What do you think about Tesco’s profit – is it at the expense of farmer suppliers? Tell us at the FWi Forum.