October 5, 2016 / 6:21 AM / a year ago

British retailer Tesco raises margin target after profit rise

LONDON, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Britain's biggest retailer Tesco set out plans to increase its profitability in the next three years, after reporting a 60 percent rise in first-half profit and a third straight quarter of UK underlying sales growth.

"Today, we are sharing our ambition to deliver a Group operating margin of between 3.5 percent and 4.0 percent by our 2019/20 financial year," it said on Wednesday, up from 2.18 percent in the period.

The firm made operating profit before one off items of 596 million pounds for the six months to Aug. 27.

That compares to 354 million pounds in the same period last year and analysts' forecasts which ranged 487-624 million pounds.

It said it was on track to deliver profit of 1.2 billion pounds for the full year, broadly in line with market forecasts.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Kate Holton

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