Tesco quits U.S. as profits fall

Tesco , Britain's biggest retailer, confirmed it will exit its loss-making Fresh & Easy business in the United States, taking a 1 billion pound ($1.53 billion) write-off that sent its year profit down for the first time in two decades.

The world's third-largest stores group said on Wednesday it made a pretax profit of 1.96 billion pounds in the year to February 13, down 51.5 percent.

Tesco also reported a 14.5 percent fall in underlying full-year profit, largely reflecting the cost of a turnaround plan for its home market, launched after a shock profit warning in January last year.

The group said fourth quarter sales at British stores open over a year, excluding fuel and VAT sales tax, grew 0.5 percent - a slowdown from growth of 1.8 percent in the six weeks to January 5.

The group made an underlying pretax profit of 3.55 billion pounds. That compares to analysts' consensus forecast of 3.50 billion pounds, according to a company poll, and from 3.92 billion pounds made in the 2011/12 year.

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Kate Holton)