- Tesco reported strong trading over the Christmas period, saying in a trading statement that it saw a 2.6% rise in like-for-like sales in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Despite the"more challenging" third quarter, the company said it had outperformed the market in food, clothing and general merchandise.

Looking forward, the company said it was "confident" in its outlook for the full year and was firmly on track to deliver the ambitions that it outlined in October 2016.

"In the UK we delivered significant improvements in our competitive offer and this is reflected in a very strong Christmas performance which was ahead of the market. We have more to do everywhere but remain bang on track to deliver our plans for the year and as we enter our centenary we are in a strong position," said Chief Executive Dave Lewis.

For its core UK business, Tesco also reported an increase in third-quarter like-for-like sales of 0.7%, which it said represented its twelfth consecutive quarter of growth.

Tesco also said like-for-like sales at Booker grew by 11.0% during the third quarter with sustained strong underlying growth.

In the company's Central Europe business, like-for-like sales rose 1.1% over the Christmas period, excluding Poland, whose sales were impacted by fewer trading Sundays and additional short-notice public holidays.

Tesco said it was continuing to exit unprofitable stores in Poland with 14 closures in the period and 32 more planned as part of an ongoing re-shaping of the portfolio.

In Asia, meanwhile, like-for-like sales were impacted by the ongoing repositioning of its customer offer in Thailand. Further, despite minor changes to the government-issued welfare cards scheme during the third quarter, it continued to negatively impact sales in Thailand by approximately 1% for the 19-week period.

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