Supermarket giant Tesco remains under pressure

SALES figures from supermarket giant Tesco will be the highlight of the corporate calendar this week, while under-pressure security firm G4S is the latest firm to face investors at its annual meeting.

SALES figures from supermarket giant Tesco will be the highlight of the corporate calendar this week, while under-pressure security firm G4S is the latest firm to face investors at its annual meeting.

Supermarket giant Tesco will remain under pressure on Wednesday when its first quarter update is expected to reveal UK sales sliding back into the red.

The UK’s biggest supermarket is already feeling the heat after recently reporting its first annual profits fall in nearly 20 years, down 51.5% to £1.96 billion, hit by slowing sales growth and a raft of hefty writedowns.

Tesco bosses insisted UK turnaround plans were on track as it said it saw its best like-for-like sales growth for three years in its final quarter, with growth of 0.5%.

But sales are expected to have suffered a relapse as it comes up against a highly promotional market and resurgent performance from Sainsbury’s.

Recent figures from Kantar Worldpanel showed Tesco’s market share slipping to 30.2% in the 12 weeks to May 12 from 30.8% a year earlier, while smaller rival Sainsbury’s enjoyed a rise from 16.5% to 16.8%. Newcastle housebuilder Bellway is likely to provide further signs that the property market is gathering momentum when it updates on recent trading on Friday.

The sector has been enjoying a recovery, spurred on by recent government incentives, with Nationwide revealing that prices saw their strongest year-on-year growth in 18 months in May.

Prices edged up by 0.4% month-on-month to reach £167,912 on average and are now 1.1% higher than they were a year ago - marking the fastest annual increase seen since November 2011, the building society said.

The study was the latest in a string of reports which have pointed to returning confidence in the housing market in 2013 as borrowers find it easier to access a mortgage.

Housebuilders in particular have been benefiting from government measures after the Budget included a new help-to-buy scheme for those struggling to find mortgage deposits, including a government interest-free loan worth 20% of the value of a new-build house - up to £600,000.

Rivals such as Charles Church parent Persimmon have thanked the initiative for sparking a marked increase in enquiries and analysts expect Bellway to report similar trends.

Chris Millington, analyst at Numis Securities, is predicting a ‘strong’ update from the group.

New G4S boss Ashley Almanza will face shareholders for the first time on Thursday after predecessor Nick Buckles stepped down as head of the security giant in the wake of its botched Olympics games contract.

Mr Buckles, who was paid a total of £1.2 million in 2012, walked away from the company with a year’s salary of £830,000 and a pension allowance of £332,000.

It came after he was pilloried by MPs following the London 2012 fiasco, which was described as a ‘humiliating shambles for the company’.

The business announced recently that he was leaving to be replaced by Mr Almanza, who only joined G4S as chief financial officer in May.

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