Tesco Ireland has reported annual sales up by nearly 10%, or €240.5m, to €2.72 billion in the year to the end of February.

The growth of non-food ranges continued with the category now accounting for 25% of sales.

Tesco said sales of organic food and tropical fruits increasing by 34% and 57% respectively.

The supermarket group said it now sources over 80% of fresh produce from local suppliers while all fresh meat is sourced from Irish farms.

Overall, the parent company met forecasts with a 13% rise in annual underlying profit of £2.55 billion - equivalent to more than £4,800 a minute.

Revenue rose by 8.1% to £42.641 billion, driven by  growing sales in eastern Europe and Asia, as well as its home market  Britain.

Tesco, which had previously said it would return £1.5 billion to shareholders, said this morning it planned to free up at least £3 billion from property assets for investors.

Tesco, which is facing a growing challenge from supermarket rivals Asda and Sainsburys, said sales in its core UK market, excluding fuel, rose 5.8% in the final quarter of the year, up from a 5.6% rise in the third quarter.

Group sales rose 10.9% in the year, with international sales up 17.9% and sales on Tesco.com showing an 29.2% rise.

Terry Leahy, Chief Executive, said: 'These results demonstrate that we have again made good progress across the Group, whilst making significant start-up investment in new businesses and coping well with challenging conditions in some markets.'

He added that plans to open stores in the United States later this year are on track.

Tesco said it planned to create 25,000 new jobs this year and and proposed an annual dividend of 9.64 pence a share, up 11.7% on the year before.