But in the long run this loss could pale into insignificance compared to today’s other revelations over its withdrawal from the supermarket space race.
Tesco announced it had taken an additional £840m writedown on UK projects that have been consigned to the scrapheap, a quarter of which is from canning works already in progress.
A total of 170 store projects were at various stages of development, including 17 that were already off the ground and seven major mixed-use developments.
And there is a further half a billion pound writedown because of the dire financial situation that has hit Tesco’s previously booming empire in Poland, Czech Republic and Turkey.
On the one hand today’s announcement about Fresh & Easy and the space race writedowns at least clears the decks and removes the uncertainly that had been hanging over the head of CEO Philip Clarke - but the figures will surely send shivers through the entire retail and property sectors.
Tesco CFO Laurie McIlwee may have been right in saying Clarke was the first major retail boss to call the end of the space race but when he went on to describe the success of its property dealings in the recent past and the profits it has brought for Tesco, it merely served to highlight just how much it will miss this flow of money as it takes the axe to its pipeline.
In the past seven years alone, McIlwee said today, Tesco had sold £9bn worth of property in the UK and made a £2bn profit.
Tesco still sits on a network worth £20bn in the UK, which does put the £800m figure into perspective. However, the march to online by consumers, perhaps even more than the cold economic winds of change, may have put paid to any chance of it returning to the growth it has seen for the past 20 years.
Clarke admitted that with the benefit of hindsight he may have done things differently. He says he did not realise when he took over quite how much investment was needed in the UK stores and that he had not foreseen, as few did, the spectacular impact of online on the viability of giant out-of-town hypermarkets.
The impact is now all too clear to see. Compared to all this, the sale across the pond is fresh and easy.