Grocer making £35 a second
Tesco's share price eased up this morning after the UK's biggest retailer reported pre-tax profits of£1.09 billion for the six months to August 26.

In early trading, sales at the world's third-largest retailer had risen 2.13p to 367.63p as the results - which were 10.3 per cent ahead of the same period last year - showed like-for-like sales in the UK had increased by 6.5 per cent.

Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy said: 'Tesco is continuing to deliver strong progress across the Group -as more customers vote with their feet and shop with us. At the same time, with the recent launch of Tesco Direct and the preparations for our entry into the United States in 2007, we are investing into new markets to drive the long-term growth of the business.'

The company said that it had incurred£20 million in start-up costs in its attempt to crack the lucrative US market and that it expected this figure to rise to£50 million in its end-of-year results.

This£20 million included the cost of launching Tesco Direct, a home delivery service for non-food items, which the company said had received more than 1 million hits on its web site in its first three weeks.

Tesco now has a 31.4 per cent share of the£120 billion UK grocery market and its earnings in the 26 weeks to the end of August mean that it made almost£35 a second.