Tesco will next week unveil a new store fascia – Superstore – in the centre of Liverpool.
The groundbreaking 28,600 sq ft shop opens on Monday in the flagship Liverpool One development in the city centre. Operating over two floors, it carries lines including clothing, electricals and homewares, as well as a full range of food.
A Tesco spokeswoman insisted its first superstore in a city centre does not represent an attempt to create a department store model. However, the grocer's fashion, homewares and other general merchandise lines will compete with a variety of Liverpool One retailers including John Lewis, Debenhams and Zara Home.
The spokeswoman said: "The Liverpool shop is a new development for us and allows us to try our superstore in a city centre.
"The format looks quite different and means our customers can have access to the full range without going to an out-of-town location." More such stores may open if Liverpool is successful.
Planet Retail global research director Bryan Roberts said: "Having a Tesco in a city centre will mean it competes with those mid-market retailers and their non-food offer is compelling."
The Liverpool shop's product lines will be priced in line with other Tesco superstores, instead of the higher prices usually associated with its city centre fascias Metro and Express.
Roberts said: "Tesco has proved that it can exist in any environment and if a location makes sense in terms of rent and servicing, then they will stick a store anywhere."
He added that while Tesco and other grocers have previously had reservations about taking central sites because of high rents, the grocer has clearly identified the prospect of "decent margins".
"There will be lots of competition for central sites like these from players such as TK Maxx, so they will be limited in how many of these stores they can open. But it is clearly an opportunity to try a new location and shows they are looking at sites that fit well for its non-food as well as grocery," Roberts said.
The Liverpool Tesco has a rooftop car park and most tills are self-service. Roberts said the shop would benefit both from convenience shoppers and those who want "everything under one roof".
The initiative follows Tesco's development of a department store model in the Czech Republic, which is due to open next week. That store will stock fashion brands such as Cortefiel and Adidas alongside own-labels.