By Matt Ayres

The worst results in Tesco's history have been announced, with statutory pre-tax loss of £6.4bn for the year to the end of February.

Annual pre-tax profit was £2.26bn a year earlier.

This is the biggest loss suffered by a UK retailer and one of the largest in the country's corporate history.

Approximately £4.7bn of the losses were the result of the fall in property value of its UK stores, 43 of which it said would close earlier this month.

Declining footfall in many of its out of town superstores has led to the decline in the value of its property portfolio.

Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis admits it has been "a very difficult year for Tesco".

Professor Crawford Spence of Warwick Business School believes these losses were necessary for the retail giant's future. He comments: "These figures are absolutely huge - nearly the biggest loss in UK corporate history.

"However, they need to be understood in context. They relate mostly to asset write-downs rather than poor trading performance. Underlying trading performance for Tesco has actually not been too bad in recent months.

In many ways Tesco has decided to make these losses now rather than later. It all needs to be understood within CEO Dave Lewis's strategy of 'taking a bath' in his first couple of years in the job - basically, if he gets all the skeletons out of the closet early on then Tesco will look bad initially, but he will give himself a set of benchmarks that are relatively easy to surpass in the coming years."

John Ibbotson of the retail consultants Retail Vision believes that the news signifies "the official end of the Tesco era."

He says: "The irony is that Tesco is on the right path. Amid the extensive wreckage left by his predecessors, Dave Lewis has done all the right things, and made all the tough decisions, to put Tesco back on track.

"Lewis has delivered direction, reduced prices, cut costs, closed the Cheshunt head office and put more staff into stores. Most fundamentally, he has changed the retailer’s entire corporate philosophy.

"But there's a long way to go yet before the agile new Tesco that is emerging becomes a profitable Tesco once again.

"And even when it does recover, it will never again be the force it once was.

"With this huge loss, the decadent retail dynasty of Tesco has come to an end."