Retailers go head to head with results

 
Marion Dakers
SUPERMARKETS are set for a showdown this week as Tesco, J Sainsbury and Marks & Spencer post interim results.

Smaller retailers Ted Baker, Halfords and Greggs are also due results, in a week that will indicate how the High Street has fared since the general election.

Tesco is expected to post a 10 per cent rise in first-half pre-tax profit on Tuesday, as growth in its Asian operations offsets sluggish sales in the UK.

Analysts expect Tesco to have improved since the start of the year. Evolution Securities predicted an 8.5 per cent rise in total sales last week but warned of slow growth in the UK thanks to lagging petrol prices and a lack of new branches.

Sainsbury’s, Britain’s third-biggest supermarket group behind Tesco and Asda, is tipped to show stronger UK growth in a second-quarter sales update on Wednesday, helped by its strength in the more affluent south.

Wealthier shoppers are also likely to prove a fillip for clothing, food and homewares chain Marks & Spencer when it publishes second-quarter sales figures on Thursday.

The group is expected to post a fourth consecutive rise in underlying quarterly sales, though analysts will be keen for any news on profit margins amid rising cotton, wage and freight prices.

Sales at UK stores open over a year are tipped to rise between 1.3 and 4.6 per cent, according to a company poll of 16 analysts, compared with first-quarter growth of 3.6 per cent.

Bakery chain Greggs is expected to post small first-half improvements on Wednesday, making up for the rise in wheat prices with some sales growth.

Analysts expect bicycles-to-car parts chain Halfords to report a drop in second-quarter underlying sales of 4.0 to 4.6 per cent on Thursday, exacerbated by teething problems at a new distribution depot, though they also think cost cuts will keep it on track to meet full-year profit expectations.

Fashion chain Ted Baker is set to announce strong sales over spring and summer on Thursday, after posting its first growth in two years at the start of 2010.