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LONDON, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Britain's biggest retailer Tesco missed forecasts for Christmas trading on Thursday as strong sales of fresh food were undermined by lower demand for general goods such as DVDs and computer games.
Market research earlier this week named Tesco as one of the festive winners on the British high street in the sales of groceries but the group said on Thursday its overall results were hit by weak general merchandise and a loss of a key tobacco supplier.
Rivals Sainsbury's, Britain's second largest supermarket group, and fourth-ranked Morrisons, both beat forecasts for Christmas trading and shares in Tesco were indicated to fall at the open.
"We have continued to outperform the market throughout this period, particularly in fresh food, thanks to our most competitive offer for many years," Chief Executive Dave Lewis said.
But he added that the collapse of the Palmer & Harvey tobacco supplier had taken "the shine off an otherwise outstanding performance for the period as a whole".
Tesco, which has been transformed by CEO Lewis following a 2014 accounting scandal, reported a 1.9 percent rise in like-for-like sales in its home market in the six weeks to Jan. 6, below a forecast of 2.4-3.2 percent.
It said it remained confident in its outlook for the full year and was firmly on track to deliver its medium-term ambitions.
The group also reported data for the third quarter, with UK like-for-like sales up 2.3 percent, having increased 2.1 percent in the second quarter. (Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Kate Holton/Guy Faulconbridge)