Tesco has high hopes for its clothing range

Tesco has high hopes for its clothing range

Tesco has outlined dramatic ambitions to be the outlet for the world's largest fashion brand, as well as commit to improving overseas factory workers' wages.

Addressing the Retail Week Conference in London, Tesco CEO UK Clothing Terry Green maintained his group was rapidly assuming the centre ground in fashion retailing and took the occasion to dispute competitor positions.

Noting Sir Stuart Rose's comments at the conference yesterday that Marks & Spencer had around an 11% market share, Green maintained Tesco and others were snapping at his heels.

"Rose is missing the point. He has been sitting around 11% and now we have discounters at 10% such as Tesco, Matalan and Sainsbury's - we are the middle market surrounding M&S," he said.

Green insisted Tesco was firmly positioning itself in the middle segment of the clothing arena, highlighting the F&F range, which was now starting to compete with more expensive brands and for which he has global ambitions.

The clothing CEO cited a dress in the F&F Couture range that is due to hit the stores imminently "It is not GBP2,000 (US$3,000) a dress," he said. "It will be GBP100 per dress."

"Our ambition is not to get from 11% to 13% - we want to make F&F the world's biggest fashion brand for men's, women's and children's wear within five years and we will get there. It is unbeatable."

Green noted F&F's strength in the UK, but added the range was now expanding into Thailand, South Korea and Malaysia. "Weaker performers will fall out and F&F will expand," he said.

And coupled with that global drive, Green said Tesco's focus to increase productivity at its sourcing factories should lead to higher wages and better value for customers.

Environmental responsibility, sustainability and raising overseas factory workers' wages has been something of a theme at the conference and Green outlined Tesco's vision on the subject.

"Purchasing decisions do come with caveats," he said. "Consumers are saying value for money means lower prices and a provenance that says this these goods have made without exploiting workers. We work with factories to improve productivity so they can pay higher wages.

"Eco-sourcing, organic sustainability, are the new buzz words. Retailers now need to offer stock that represents ever-increasing value for money and the right provenance - this has to improve every season."

As part of that improvement, Green said Tesco had moved from having 700 suppliers four years ago to just 200 today.

"In a business where progress never stops, standing still is going backwards," he said.