Tesco announced it had racked up its ninth consecutive quarter of growth as it reported results for the year.
Group sales rose 2.3% to £51b, after the ninth quarter of sales growth on the trot in the fourth quarter. UK like-for-like sales were up 2.2%.
Tesco had also trimmed net debt by nearly 30% or £1.3b during the year to £2.6b.
The supermarket issued a final dividend of 2p, which it said gave a full-year dividend of 3p, reflecting “improved performance and board confidence”.
Dave Lewis, Tesco’s chief executive called the year another one of “strong progress”.
He commented: “We have further improved profitability, with group operating margin reaching 3% in the second half. We are generating significant levels of cash and net debt is down by almost £6b over the last three years. All of this puts us firmly on track to deliver our medium-term ambitions and create long-term value for every stakeholder in Tesco.”
The supermarket was given a boost with the go-ahead of its Booker merger in February with the backing of Booker shareholders, and said it was on track to deliver a recurring run-rate of £200m pre-tax synergies per year by the end of the third year, with around £60m expected in the first year.
In the merged company, Charlie Wilson, chief executive of Booker, will become Tesco UK’s chief executive.
Looking ahead, Tesco said it remains “firmly on track” to deliver medium-term ambitions outlined in October 2016. These include reducing costs by £1.5b, generating £9b of retail cash from operations and to improve operating margins to between 3.5% and 4% by 2019/20.