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Tesco grows F&F to fuel global sales

Tesco will introduce a raft of new sub-brands for spring 09 to help it maximise clothing sales across its international markets.

The UK supermarket chain will unveil four new sub-brands for spring 09 under its trend-led F&F brand called F&F Blue, F&F Blue Vintage, F&F Baby and F&F Basics. The launches will enable Tesco to better tailor and weight its offer towards the tastes of customers in overseas markets.

Jan Marchant, Tesco category director of buying for womenswear, told Drapers that the development of sub-brands was vital to building F&F into an international brand.

"We believe F&F has the potential to stretch to all the areas we want to cover and we have to consider what works for our international markets, particularly Eastern Europe and Asia," she said.

Tesco has been expanding F&F since 2006, when its then head of design Lee Rees-Oliviere launched premium sub-brand F&F Collection.

Rees-Oliviere left the business last year after unveiling Heritage, a Savile Row-inspired sub-brand under the F&F banner. F&F also has Signature, a sub-brand with better quality fabrics than the mainline.

Bryan Roberts, research director of global retail analysis company Planet Retail, said Tesco's move would allow the retailer to better tailor its offer to global markets. "Sub-brands are important to achieve differentiation in different markets," he said. "It is sensible to have flexibility as there are sizing, fashion and design issues in different market conditions. Eastern Europe is value-driven but South Korea looks for great quality and customer service."

Edward Whitefield, chairman of retail consultancy Management Horizons, added that the development of a brand into spin-off sub-brands was an international trend. "As organisations get bigger and develop their collections, it is important to target segments of the market with sub-brands," he said.

Whitefield estimated that Tesco's international clothing sales make up 15% to 20% of its total clothing business. "Like-for-like sales across Tesco’s entire international business are running at 10% to 15% up, whereas it is only about 3% in the UK," he said.

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