The Christmas trading figures were much better than Tesco’s dire performance over the same six-week period a year earlier, when it posted a like-for-like sales decline of 2.3 per cent in the UK.
That setback prompted the group’s first profit warning in two decades  and a subsequent commitment to invest £1bn in turning around the UK business.
“In the UK I think we were back on form,” said Philip Clarke, chief executive, on Thursday. However, he added: “We need to keep our feet on the ground. It was only a six-week period.”