Tesco UK and Ireland sales were €50.1 billion (£44.9 billion) for 2019, a 0.2% increase at constant rates.
The business posted group sales of €64 billion (£56.5 billion) for the year, its annual report for the 53 weeks ended 29 February 2020 showed.
The UK retailer reported retail operating profit before exceptional items and amortisation of €3.1 billion (£2.77 billion), which was up 14.9%. Margin was up 4.4% for the same period.
'Returning to Normal'
The retailer said that its priority in dealing with the exceptional challenges posed by COVID-19 is to ensure the safety of our customers and colleagues, support our suppliers and maintain the availability of food.
In every region the group is working closely with the government and public health authorities to ensure we are supporting wherever we can and following all the relevant guidelines, it added.
"In this time of crisis we have focused on four things; food for all, safety for everyone, supporting our colleagues and supporting our communities," said said Dave Lewis, chief executive, Tesco.
"Initial panic buying has subsided and service levels are returning to normal."
The group said that while it has already stepped up its capacity on Grocery Home Shopping by more than 20%, and will continue to increase this, there is simply not enough capacity to supply the whole market.
COVID-19 is having a material impact on the operations of it business and the company said that it is incurring significant additional costs, particularly in payroll as it recruits additional staff to meet demand and cover the work of employees who are absent and being paid.
Lewis added: "Over the last five years we have focused on serving customers better, re-engaging our colleagues, completely resetting our relationships with our suppliers and as a result we have been able to add value for our shareholders."
"These endeavours put us in a strong operational and financial position to deal with the challenges of COVID-19," he said.
While the full financial impact of the crisis for 2020/21 is impossible to predict with a high degree of certainty, it has considered a range of scenarios to understand potential outcomes on its business and plan appropriately, the company said.
© 2020 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Donna Ahern. Click sign-up to subscribe to Checkout.