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Tesco expands dark stores in online shopping push

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Tesco is expanding its network of ‘dark stores’ as it focuses on the potential of internet shopping.

The supermarket already has four online-only stores in London but more openings are planned. Already in the pipeline are stores in Crawley, set to open next year, and Erith, near Dartford, to come in 18 months, while Tesco managers are now looking for sites in the Birmingham and Manchester areas.

Ken Towle, the online food and internet retailing director at Tesco, told The Telegraph that the retailer’s dark stores were now in its top 10 sites by revenue. He said that Tesco aimed to have “tens but not hundreds” of dark stores, marking a significant expansion of its online infrastructure.

At the same time, Tesco is slowing its store opening programme at a time when in-store revenues have seen falls – like-for-like sales were down by 1.5% in June. The Guardian, meanwhile, reports that chief executive Philip Clarke said last week that web sales were providing “all the growth we have in our core food businesses these days”. In its report on yesterday’s store visit to a new Tesco store in Bishop’s Stortford, it cites Tesco predictions that sales will double to more than £5bn in the next five years.

Tesco is currently working to turn around its UK business at a time when sales in this country are falling. In January it gave its first profits warning for 20 years.

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