The long-awaited unveiling comes as Tesco shifted its clothing offer up a gear with news that although the category is not part of the new Tesco Direct launch, it will go online next year. In addition, it is launching its first designer fashion range and mothballing trials of its premium Finest sub-brand in clothing.
Tesco Direct, which will offer 8,000 products, was initially trademarked by the supermarket as a non food internet shopping concept and general merchandise catalogue in 1994 and then again in 1997. However, until now the market had not been right, said finance and strategy director Andrew Higginson. "We knew we were going to do it in the 1990s, but it has been about getting the right people and at the right time."
Analysts Citigroup said Tesco Direct could become a £2bn business in the medium term. Higginson said online non food sales account for £80m of sales, while Tesco.com recently exceeded £1bn.
The new business, which will go live on Wednesday (6 September), will be led by former Argos finance director Steve Robinson, who joined Tesco last year. Meanwhile, the retailer also launched its first designer range, 'F&F Collection by Lee Rees-Oliviere at Tesco', this week. It is the eponymous sub-brand of its head of design, who was appointed last October. A women's black tuxedo suit will cost £100, while £90 will buy a men's leather biker jacket.
Tesco had also trialled a men's Finest-branded leather jacket, among other lines, over the past few years. However, head of marketing for clothing Sean Murray said it had found that customers did not want a grocery brand when fashion shopping. "Customers respond to branding on clothing that they are familiar with from the high street," he said, adding that Tesco was working on a separate project to sell clothing online, which was due to launch next year.