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A shopper passes a Tesco supermarket in London October 5, 2011. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor LONDON | Wed Oct 2, 2013 2:43am EDT LONDON (Reuters) – Tesco (TSCO.L), Britain’s biggest grocer that is 18 months into a recovery plan, posted flat quarterly sales in its home market on Wednesday, as 1 billion pounds ($1.62 billion) of investment failed to boost its fortunes. The country’s biggest retailer and the world’s third largest said sales at UK stores open over a year, excluding fuel and VAT sales tax, showed zero growth in the 13 weeks to August 24, its fiscal second quarter. That compared to analysts’ forecasts in a range of flat to down 0.5 percent and does represent an improvement on a first quarter decline of 1 percent. First-half group trading profit fell 7.6 percent to 1.59 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) in the six months to August 24 – in line with analysts’ forecasts. That was hit by a particularly poor performance in Europe, where trading profit in the first half was down 68 percent. “We are continuing to make good progress on building a better Tesco in the UK and the investments we have made in our international businesses have started to feed through into an improved trading performance in the second half,” the group said. “However, challenging economic conditions overseas, particularly in Europe, have held back consumer confidence and spending, leading to a lower level of sales than expected.” Once the envy of British retailers Tesco has been hurt by falling profits and asset write-downs, a costly retreat from U.S. and Japanese markets and revelations that horsemeat had been found in some meat products sold by it and other retailers. In Britain it was hit hard by the economic downturn because compared to rivals it sells a higher proportion of non-food items, where consumers have cut back the most and also following years of underinvestment that resulted in it losing ground to Wal-Mart’s (WMT.N) Asda, the No. 2, and J Sainsbury (SBRY.L), the No. 3. Tesco is also the most affected by the growth of discounters Aldi ALDIEI.UL and Lidl LIDUK.UL, according to JPMorgan Cazenove, until recently Tesco’s house broker. Though the firm has invested heavily in store upgrades, product ranges, more staff and its online offer for a British market which contributes over two-thirds of group revenue, its share of the market is still showing a year-on-year decline, monthly industry data showed last week. The firm is also facing serious challenges in its international markets, though it has struck deals to exit its loss-making business in America and fold its unprofitable Chinese operation into a state-run company. “The challenging retail environment in Europe has continued to affect the performance and profitability of our businesses there,” Chief Executive Philip Clarke said.

Domino’s Pizza UK sales rise 4 percent, Germany plans on track

A further 200,000 stuck in camps on the borders of Syria will be offered food vouchers. UK funding to the World Food Programme in Syria and the region now totals more than 150m, and the WFP estimates that it costs 11 to feed a Syrian family for a week. The UN agency is aiming to feed 3 million people in Syria every month and plans to further scale up its operations to reach 4 million during October. Prices for everyday items and services have spiralled up in Syria owing to the civil war. A kilogramme of chicken in Damascus now costs 10% of the average salary. It is estimated there are 6.8 million people in need within Syria including 4.25 million forced to flee their homes to other parts of the country. Half of the refugees are under 18. Speaking in Geneva this week, Muhannad Hadi, the WFP’s emergency regional co-ordinator for Syria, said: “The agency is concerned with the ever-increasing number of displaced people and the fact that all sectors of the economy are collapsing. “People who may have had income cannot purchase food due to high inflation, he noted. Syria had also experienced the worst harvest in years.” Ministers, thwarted by the Commons from backing military action against the Assad regime for its use of chemical weapons, have focussed on improving the amount and quality of aid to Syrian refugees, as well as the speed with which it reaches civilians trapped inside the country. Separately the security council agreed at meeting in New York to issue a resolution calling for the Syrian authorities to “lift bureaucratic restrictions that prevent lifesaving aid from reaching civilians in particular by granting visas for NGOs and UN staff, expediting registration for international NGOs, and facilitating access for relief convoys across conflict lines and international borders”. It also urges all parties to the conflict to immediately demilitarise medical facilities and schools as well as agree on humanitarian pauses in the fighting to facilitate safe and unhindered access. A coalition of 16 humanitarian agencies called on all sides to enforce the resolution as quickly as possible. Responding to the resolution, Greening said: “It is very welcome news that the UN security council has agreed on the need for unhindered access to all those needing humanitarian support in Syria. It is vital that aid can get through as quickly as possible to those who need it most.” Save the Children’s chief executive, Justin Forsyth, said: “This as an important first step but we know from past conflicts how easy it is for agreements to be made on paper but no action to be delivered on the ground.

UK allocates extra £87m towards food relief for Syrian children

Total sales for the period rose 10.4 percent to 140.9 million pounds ($228.3 million). The company said it intends to open 50 stores in the current financial year. The group, which makes almost all of its sales of pizzas such as Pepperoni Passion and Meatilicious in the UK and Ireland, has big plans for expansion into Germany but in July was forced to slow them, as higher labour costs meant it would break even there as much as two years later than hoped. To help improve its performance there Domino’s is handing the running of its poor performing own-managed stores over to more experienced franchisees, a model that is behind its success in the UK. Domino’s said on Wednesday it was confident that a good number of those transfers would be complete by the year end. Like-for-like sales over the period in Germany climbed 9.4 percent, while sales in Ireland marked nine periods of consecutive growth with a rise of 2.4 percent. Domino’s chief executive Lance Batchelor said the group remained on track to meet full-year forecasts. The company is on average expected to report a pretax profit of 48.67 million pounds, according to a Reuters poll of eight analysts. (Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Neil Maidment) @yahoofinance on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook Related Content Chart Your most recently viewed tickers will automatically show up here if you type a ticker in the “Enter symbol/company” at the bottom of this module. You need to enable your browser cookies to view your most recent quotes. Search for share prices Terms Quotes are real-time for NASDAQ, NYSE, and NYSEAmex when available. See also delay times for other exchanges .

UK Uncut response to Justice Secretary’s speech at Conservative Party conference: Roadblock protests will happen this weekend

UK Uncut spokesperson Jim Thompson said: The governments proposals will destroy legal aid, blocking access to justice for all but the rich. Changes announced at the beginning of September do not alter the governments fundamental assault on the foundations of the democratic system through these proposals. He continued: The government has refused to listen to the clear opposition to these changes, so its time to fight back. UK Uncuts Roadblocks for Justice protests will happen as planned on October 5th. We know that this will be disruptive. We know that it will stop the traffic. But we know that this kind of direct action works. The activists plan for roadblocks in London and around the UK, and have enlisted the support of other direct action groups, including Disabled People Against the Cuts, Plane Stupid and Fuel Poverty Action [1, 2, 3]. The protest groups explain that their actions would be symbolically highlighting the devastating effect the changes will have on access to justice. [4] The governments reforms have come under increasing criticism, with Englands most senior family judge recently describing them as disconcerting and suggesting that something needs to be done [5]. In July, the government was forced to backtrack on a key part of the reforms, that of removing the right of legal aid defendants to choose their solicitor, following protests [6]. The government claims that changes will improve efficiency in the legal system [7], but this claim has been challenged by research showing that the estimated 6m savings will be dwarfed by 30m in knock-on costs [8]. Sarah Price of UK uncut said The changes in legal aid are an assault on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. By insisting on these so-called cuts the government takes away our ability to challenge their decisions, allowing them to cut deeper and without legal challenge. Lynn Jacobs, a UK uncut supporter said I will be supporting this action because I have already seen the impact of legal aid changes. I fled an abusive relationship and was not sure what to do to protect myself. Because of the changes to legal aid I could not afford get a court order to protect myself from my ex-partner. I feel sad that the government does not want to help to protect me, and women like me, from violence.