Supermarket chain Tesco posted a 21.3 per cent jump in first half pre-tax profit on Tuesday as it was boosted by surging apparel sales.

The chain said its profits in the six months to August 9 jumped to £661 million as group sales rose 17 per cent year-on-year to £14.9 billion.

Chief executive Terry Leahy said he was delighted with the results and described his firm as the fastest growing clothing business in the UK.