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Tesco Posts Record $9.5 Billion Loss, Biggest in Company History

The loss was the largest in the high street stalwart's 96 year history, according to Reuters.
Image: File photo of a shopper entering a branch of Tesco supermarket in west London
A shopper enters a branch of Tesco supermarket. Toby Melville / Reuters
/ Source: NBC News

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

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."

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