Tesco Online to create 7,000 jobs

Supermarket chain will triple size of Tesco Direct, expand e-commerce services

Tesco, the UK's largest supermarket, says it will triple the number of stores offering its home-shopping service and expand its non-food-related e-commerce businesses, creating 7,000 jobs in the process. Tesco said the service has met with "enormous" demand.

The Tesco Direct service has made Tesco the biggest online grocery retailer in the world, with 250,000 registered customers and annual sales of £125m. The moves announced Wednesday will expand the number of stores offering the service from 100 to 300.

"The growth of e-commerce over the last year proved the enormous demand from our customers for this exciting venture," chief executive Terry Leahy said in a prepared statement. "The existing Internet home shopping service is already making money and we expect it to grow."

The extension will mean 90 percent of the UK population will have access to Tesco's online shopping, though initially each store will only be able to initially deliver to 2,000 customers. Within a year, however, Tesco Direct expects to be able to serve one million customers overall.

The company will also expand its other online businesses, including books, clothing, gifts, furnishings and banking.

Tesco's announcement comes a day after it reported that Web sales were up ten-fold over a year ago, though overall sales were lacklustre. After reporting 10 percent growth in the third quarter, compared to the same quarter a year ago, Tesco shares dropped about two percent to around 170-1/2 pence.

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