Tesco sales figures hint at a tentative recovery for Britain's biggest supermarket chain - its board nonetheless bracing for a stormy shareholders' meeting, its first since massive black holes were found in its books. Hayley Platt reports.
A few latecomers make their way to Tesco's AGM. Many with questions over what has gone wrong at Britain's biggest supermarket. In April, it revealed a £6.4 billion pound annual loss - the worst in its 96 years and the biggest in British retail history. One investor going into the meeting was Ian Jessiman. SOUNDBITE: Ian Jessiman, retired GP and Tesco investor, saying (English): "I'd like to know why they got themselves into the financial pickle they've got in. I'm concerned about their way payments are made to suppliers and I hope they're going to start again at the beginning and we'll have a new company so to speak." Problems at Tesco's have been stacking up. An accounting scandal leaving a black hole of over £260 million Sliding sales after years of declining market share. And a brutal price war between the discounters. But there has been some improvement since new boss Dave Lewis took the helm in September. First quarter sales although still down by 1.3 percent were not as bad as expected. IG's Chris Beauchamp says it's a step in the right direction. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHRIS BEAUCHAMP, SENIOR MARKET ANALYST, IG, SAYING: "Now the turnaround has started we can expect that to continue even if it's a choppy ride. But as a first set of results it's not actually been too bad, and I think the AGM, although it will be a bit acrimonious, will give him a reasonable benefit of the doubt to say: 'you've started, let's see what you can do over the next year or so'." There's still a long way to go. Lewis has been cutting costs and selling assets to mend its broken finances and focus on its home market. Its South Korean unit is currently up for sale. But the huge pay packets and bonuses being proposed for Dave Lewis and other executives make some angry - including this customer. SOUNDBITE: Nick Gretton, Tesco customer, saying (English): "If he's worth that then it's great. If he's bringing success to the shareholders, to the staff and to the suppliers that's great but I don't think he is right now and there's so much imbalance in that structure, something needs to be done about it." The coming years will be the real test. Investors watching closely to see if Tesco can return to the glory days it once enjoyed.