Tesco has reported a 1.5% decrease in like-for-like sales, according to the latest figures.Published in its third-quarter interim management statement, Tesco has blamed a “weaker grocery market” for the decline.The fall in like-for-like sales exclude both VAT and petrol. Total sales in the UK, including VAT and excluding petrol, increased by 0.9%.It also said that international conditions remain challenging, particularly in Thailand and Ireland. Elsewhere, in Poland and Turkey, the company is seeing better trends.Group sales for the 13 weeks ending 23 November 2013 increased by 0.6% at actual exchange rates and by 0.2% at constant rates, excluding petrol. Including petrol, group sales decreased by 0.8% at actual exchange rates and by 1.2% at constant rates.Philip Clarke, chief executive, added that the group’s decision to “significantly reduce the amount of new space” it opens has also held back sales performance in the short-term. “Customers are continuing to respond positively to the changes we are making to the UK business to differentiate our offer and position Tesco as a multichannel leader,” he said. “These include the re-launch of Tesco Finest, over 100 more store refreshes in the quarter and further investment into our fast-growing online grocery service.” Clarke concluded that Tesco is confident that its strategic priorities, including strengthening the UK business and ensuring capital discipline, will “drive long-term value and returns”.In a statement, Tesco said that “despite the challenging conditions in many of our markets, we are performing in line with market expectations for the full year”.
The traditional rivals are the last two nations standing after England survived a furious Tonga comeback on Saturday.While Wayne Bennett’s side have bounced back from their tournament-opening loss to Australia with four straight wins, they will start as overwhelming underdogs in Brisbane.The Kangaroos have won 12 straight against England dating back to 1995, while their last defeat to Great Britain came in 2006.”England’s just, they’re a complete footy side,” Cordner said.”You have to play for 80 minutes to beat England. They pushed us all the way in Melbourne in the first game.” Australia have the bonus of an extra day’s rest, having won their semi-final over Fiji on Friday at Suncorp Stadium.Mal Meninga’s squad enjoy Sunday off while England spend their recovery day in the air.The flight adds to an exhausting travelling schedule which has already included trips to Melbourne, Perth, Melbourne again and Auckland.The Kangaroos have remained in Australia throughout the six weeks, beginning in Melbourne before stops at Canberra, Sydney, Darwin and then the sunshine state.Cordner conceded fatigue has become an issue but said the extra day’s rest would be an advantage.Aaron Woods (shoulder), David Klemmer (sternum), Will Chambers (toe) and Josh McGuire (ankle) are all icing minor injuries, as is England captain Sean O’Loughlin (shoulder).Hooker Josh Hodgson is all but certain to miss the match with a knee injury, with veteran James Roby to deputise.”Some of the boys have been training for over a year now from pre-season last year,” Cordner said.”So it’s been non-stop for over a year now, especially playing in that game in Darwin.”It took a lot out of us, as well in the heat, up there.”That’s a bonus not having go to the airport, spend a full day travelling, which is really good for recovery.”It’ll be good to have a couple of days off, freshen up.”