Tesco sales rose for the seventh consecutive quarter, by 3.3% to £25.2 billion in the first half of 2017/18, with volumes within its core fresh food business having grown by 1.5%, thanks to continued “strong performance” within its meat and produce categories.

Like-for-like sales were also up by 2.1% in the second quarter of the year, while overall volumes grew 0.3%.

Pre-tax profit also rose to £562 million for the first half ending on 26th August, compared with £71 million for the same period last year.

Announcing its interim results, Tesco stated that its meat and produce categories had “outperformed the market in volume terms by nearly 6% and 3% respectively”, highlighting that “market conditions have been challenging with inflationary pressure being felt throughout the half, but we have worked hard with our supplier partners to minimise price increases for customers”.

Own-label ranges have seen sales grow 4.6% year-on-year, while exclusive fresh food brands now feature “in over 70% of customer baskets”.

Online grocery sales grew 4.6% in the half, driven by increases in both order numbers and basket size.

Chief executive, Dave Lewis, commented: “Sales are up, profits are up, cash generation continues to strengthen and net debt levels are less than half what they were when we started our turnaround three years ago.

“All of this is possible because of the focus we have placed on serving shoppers a little better every day.”

Lewis also announced that the company will be resuming its dividend, which he said reflected Tesco’s “confidence that we can build on our strong performance to date and in doing so, create long-term, sustainable value for all of our stakeholders”.