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Tesco to Expand Overseas as Profits Soar

LONDON - Leading supermarket chain Tesco today announced plans to open more than 100 new stores overseas next year and create 20,000 jobs worldwide as it reported an abrupt rise in annual pretax profits, AFP reports.

Pretax profits went up by 18 percent to 1.60 billion pounds (2.88 billion dollars) in the year to February, on sales that grew by 19 percent to 33.6 billion pounds.

This dramatic improvement comes despite stiff competition in Britain's grocery sector that has left some of Tesco's competitors struggling to maintain sales. J Sainsbury shocked investors with a profit warning last month.

By contrast, Tesco said full-year underlying pretax profits, which exclude certain one-off costs, rose 22 percent to 1.71 billion pounds. The figure was toward the upper end of the range of analyst forecasts. "Today's figures demonstrate what a great British success Tesco is at home and abroad," said chief executive Terry Leahy.

Overseas sales increased 29 percent to 6.7 billion pounds, yielding underlying operating profit of 306 million pounds from abroad, an increase of 44 percent from last year.

The company has embarked on an aggressive expansion plan in foreign countries, opening new stores in Asia and Eastern Europe. Next year it intends to open a further 51 hypermarkets and 51 other stores abroad.
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