Tesco yesterday said it had made a good start to its new financial year, after like-for-like sales improved by 4.5 per cent in the UK.
The group, which faces stronger competition from resurgent rivals Sainsbury's and Morrisons, said the first quarter figure for its home market represented solid progress following two years of "exceptional performance".
International sales were up 15.1 per cent and helped group sales for the 13 weeks to the end of May 27 show an increase of 10.4 per cent on a year earlier.
Tesco said total UK sales were up nine per cent, and included a contribution of 3.5 per cent from new stores.
In April, the company posted a 17 per cent rise in annual profits to £2.21 billion, after it banked sales of £41.8 billion from its worldwide operations.
Analysts had expected a slowing in UK like-for-like sales growth - from the 7.5 per cent seen last year - as the retailer faced up to tougher comparisons and the impact of rival chains improving their own operating performance.
The competitive environment has led to further price cuts, with Tesco reporting deflation of 1.4 per cent for the first quarter period.
Chief executive Sir Terry Leahy said: "We've made a good start to the year across the group. International is showing strong growth and pushing on well with new store development and the UK has made solid progress on top of two years of exceptional performance."
Tesco, which currently operates in 12 countries outside the UK, including China, Turkey and Japan, said it was on track to deliver its largest ever programme of international store openings this year.
About one million square feet will be added following the acquisition of 11 Carrefour stores in the Czech Republic while Tesco has also announced its first steps into the United States with the £250 million a year roll-out of its Express store format on the west coast next year.
"We are actually very pleased with the underlying sales performance in the current climate," said Tesco finance director Andrew Higginson.
"It is a pretty solid number."
The retailer's trading update comes during the first week of the soccer World Cup, which has helped boost sales of television screens, particularly in South Korea and eastern Europe.
Sales of flat-screen televisions in Tesco's South Korean stores were up sixfold in recent weeks, Mr Higginson said.
Sales of LCD televisions in the Czech Republic were up 300 per cent, with beer sales in both the Czech Republic and Hungary up 20 per cent.
"You definitely get a one-off kicker associated with the World Cup, and if England have a good run in it that will also be very helpful," Mr Higginson said.
He added: "The thing after that then, particularly at this time of year of course, is whether the good weather maintains."
Warm weather typically leads to higher sales of barbecue foods, beer and other high-margin items. Tesco is Britain's biggest supermarket group, with a market share of over 30 per cent.