RETAIL HEAVYWEIGHT Tesco has posted bullish sales figures for the Christmas trading period.

The company told investors that like-for-like sales were up 9.3% in the seven weeks to January 8. When petrol sales were excluded growth stood at 7.6%.

A spokesman for the company said: “Even though the food market itself has been pretty flat, we‘ve seen growth at Tesco.

“We sold £1bn of British food last year, so growth for us means growth for producers. Many British farmers have grown with us.”

He also denied that the supermarket chain‘s latest £80 million pound price cutting campaign would have an impact on farmers.

Efficiency gains would be made by cutting out waste and investing in new technology, not squeezing suppliers, he said.

Robin Tapper, head of food and farming at the NFU said: “They are spectacular results, but I think people in that position with a dominant market share have responsibilities.

“This extends to inclusive negotiated buying, which is an approach shown by the upper management at Tesco, but not by all levels down to the buyers.

“There is a danger of arrogance towards suppliers.”

Recent talks with upper Tesco management had been positive, he said, and should filter down the ranks.

And the Office of Fair Trading‘s review of the supermarket code expected in February should also bring improvements, he added.