Struggling Tesco posts pre-tax loss of $9.5B


U.K. supermarket Tesco reported a full-year pre-tax loss of £6.38 billion ($9.5 billion) on Wednesday, as the retailer grapples with what it called "tough trading conditions."

The loss was the largest in the high street stalwart's 96 year history, according to Reuters.

The retailer also wrote down the value of its stores by £4.7 billion. This prompted the group to promise "a thorough review of Group's property portfolio" in order to strengthen and protect the balance sheet.

It has already promised to close a number of unprofitable stores across the U.K.

Tesco was hit by a massive accounting scandal last year after it was discovered that the company had overstated its profits to the tune of £250 million. It came under investigation by the U.K.'s Serious Fraud Office and faces lawsuits from shareholders.

A Tesco supermarket in Glasgow, Scotland.
Jeff J Mitchell I Getty Images

On Wednesday, Tesco chief executive, Dave Lewis, said it had been "a difficult year for Tesco."

"The results we have published today reflect a deterioration in the market and, more significantly, an erosion of our competitiveness over recent years," he said in the group's earnings statement.

"We have faced into this reality, sought to draw a line under the past and begun to rebuild, and already we are beginning to see early encouraging signs from what we've done so far."

The group reported that although U.K. like-for-like sales volumes were up for first time in over four years, driven by better availability, service and pricing, the group had seen a "significant reduction in U.K. trading profit." Its full- year group trading profit was £1.4 billion, in line with company guidance.

Lewis warned that the market was "challenging" and Tesco was not expecting "any let up in the months ahead." As such, he said, investors should expect an "increased level of volatility in short-term performance."

Portfolio Manager at Pimco, Mike Amey, told CNBC that it would take time for Tesco to reverse its fortunes.

"The turnaround is in track," he told CNBC on Wednesday, "but these kinds of companies are like supertankers and you can't turn around a company of that size in six months, so you've got recognize that it's going to take a bit of time and you're going to get a couple of bad quarters on the turnaround. But it looks to us that the turnaround is happening."

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