Tesco hopes to win back sales with new items

Marion Dakers
TESCO will today unveil a revamped version of its Finest range, which Britain’s biggest supermarket hopes will win over shoppers and shareholders following grim half-year results.

The FTSE 100 firm, whose market share is dipping as the discount supermarkets grow, is expected to lay out 1,500 new or redesigned products ahead of the Christmas rush.

The relaunch, around a year in the making, comes a week after Tesco posted a 23.5 per cent slump in pre-tax profits in the six months to 24 August – a result that disappointed analysts and provoked anger from some investors.

One told the Telegraph yesterday that chief executive Philip Clarke needs to be more “aggressive” when it comes to winning back sales in the UK.

However, others have backed his domestic plan, which has seen Tesco overhaul its stores, launch an own-brand tablet computer and square up to Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Asda with a price-matching campaign.

David Herro at Harris Associates, a small holder of Tesco shares, told City A.M. “the key to Tesco’s turnaround is greater success in the UK”.

“We are confident that their approach is correct and are supportive of managements efforts as the ‘fix’ can’t and won't happen over night,” he said.

Herro told the Sunday Times that the company should look at improving profitability at its Kipa business in Turkey, which Tesco bought in 2003 and grown to a network of 191 stores. Sales in the half-year results slumped 12.8 per cent.

Tesco has been rejigging its international businesses in recent months, seeking a sale for its Fresh & Easy brand in the United States and penning a deal to merge its Chinese stores with state-controlled Vanguard.

Clarke, who has held the top job since March 2011, said during last week’s results that he was confident that the firm’s overseas ventures were making progress.