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Business

Tesco logs worst annual loss in its history

UK retailer Tesco has said it's booked tremendous losses in the financial year to the end of February. The supermarket chain is in the process of overhauling its business amid fierce competition from German rivals.

Britain's embattled retailer Tesco reported Wednesday it posted the worst annual loss in its 96-old history and one of the worst in British corporate history. For the year ending February 28, it wrote down the value of its stores by 4.7 billion pounds ($1.02 billion, 951 million euros), with the company's net loss coming in at 5.74 billion pounds.

Still reeling from an earlier accounting scandal and tumbling sales due to pressures from discounters, Tesco made a statutory pre-tax loss of 6.38 billion pounds and revealed a net debt load of 8.5 billion pounds plus a net pension deficit of 3.9 billion pounds.

New CEO Dave Lewis spoke of a very difficult year for the company. "The results we have published today reflect deterioration in the market and an erosion of our competitiveness over recent years," he said.

Pricing policy scrutinized

And more trouble might be coming Tesco's way soon, as a probe looks likely to be launched against it and other UK retailers over pricing practices.

Consumer watchdog Which? Had demanded an investigation into what it called "misleading and confusing" pricing tactics in areas such as multi-buy offers at the likes of Tesco and Asda.

"Shoppers think they're getting a bargain, but in reality it's impossible for any consumer to know if they're genuinely getting a fair deal," Which? said in a statement.

The UK's Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury and Morrison have become embroiled in a fierce price war as they battle with increasingly popular German no-frills discounters Aldi and Lidl.

Tesco said trading conditions also remained tough for its Asian and continental Europesan operations.

hg/ng (AFP, Reuters)

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