Tesco in shock return to the US as it rolls out fashion stores

 
Harriet Green
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TESCO is having a second stab at the US market, announcing plans yesterday to open the first franchise stores of its clothing business F&F across the pond.

The move comes just seven months after Tesco backed out of its Fresh & Easy venture in the US, booking a £1bn writedown on the move after attempts to take on US retail giants like Walmart failed.

Tesco is now planning to open seven F&F stores on the east coast this year, in partnership with its US franchise partner, Retail Group of America.

The first one will open near Boston in May and will sell women’s, men’s and kids’ ranges. Four more will follow in New York, then in Philadelphia, Newport and Virginia.

F&F has expanded quickly since its launch in the UK and Ireland in 2001 and now operates in 21 countries.

Clothing sales have bucked an overall downward trend at the retailer, growing by nine per cent last year to top £1bn.

“We’ve had a really positive response from customers in all of our overseas markets so we’re hoping our American stores prove to be just as popular,” said F&F chief executive Jason Tarry.

The announcement comes just ahead of Tesco’s yearly results, in which it is expected to unveil another year of falling sales and profits, putting more pressure on chief executive Philip Clarke to up the ante when it comes to leading a turnaround.

Analysts at Shore Capital said yesterday they expect Tesco to report a 19 per cent decline in earnings in the year to February 2014.