UK supermarket giant Tesco has reported a 21.3% rise in first-half profits, helped by increased sales due to the summer heat wave.

Tesco posted a 21.3% rise in underlying pre-tax profits to £661m (US$1.06bn) for the 24 weeks to 9 August, while pre-tax profit rose 17.4% to £628m. Underlying pre-tax profit excludes net loss on disposal of fixed assets, integration costs and goodwill amortisation.

Group sales rose 17.0% to £14.9bn. In the UK, where the company is the largest supermarket retailer, Tesco’s sales rose 14.2% to £12.0bn, while like-for-like sales growth was 6.3%. The group’s international sales rose 30.0% to £3.0bn.

“It has been an outstanding first half,” chief executive Terry Leahy said.

Tesco’s European sales, excluding the UK, rose by 32.1% to £1.7bn, while sales in Asia were up 27.4% to £1.3bn.

“We haven’t been distracted by the Safeway bid situation. The weather has helped and we’re running well ahead of the industry,” Leahy said in an interview with Reuters.  

Leahy said some of Tesco’s overseas operations had posted negative like-for-like sales results, but that the situation was improving in seven out of ten overseas countries.

“South Korea and Poland are still not showing signs of recovery,” he added.  

“In every market without exception we are winning market share. We are coping with these tough conditions,” Leahy said.