Philip Clarke CEO Tesco

Philip Clarke remains optimistic

Tesco has reported a one per cent decline in like-for-like sales for the first quarter of 2013.

A spokesperson for the retailer confirmed that backlash from the horsemeat scandal had seen a 'small impact' on frozen and chilled convenience food sales, with four of Tesco's food products contaminated.

It was also bad news for the retailer's international business as like for like sales in Asia fell by 3.8 per cent, a decline driven by the continuing impact of the regulatory restrictions on opening hours in South Korea, one of Tesco's most profitable international markets.

However, despite the drop in sales, CEO Philip Clarke insists everything is on track as he looks to build a better supermarket.

'Importantly to the objectives we have set out for sustainable and disciplined growth, customer perceptions are improving across all aspects of the shopping trip in the UK, driven by continued progress on our plans to 'Build a Better Tesco' and our market-leading multichannel offer,' said Clarke.

Clarke also praised the retailer's performance on fresh produce and online, which continues to be the retailer's fastest growing category with 169 Click & Collect stores now open nationwide.

He concluded:'We have set out our plans to put customers back at the heart of the way we do business, and this is particularly evident in our recent initiatives on price and on food trust. Customers across the UK are embracing Price Promise and we are encouraged by performance in our core fresh food categories and uplifts from refreshed stores.'

The decline in sales confirms reports earlier this week, with analysts correctly predicting a one per cent sales decline.Philip Dorgan of brokerPanmure Gordon said: 'Despite this decline, Tesco is on the right track and we expect UK recovery to slowly emerge in 2014.'