Is couture a step too far for Tesco?

Another week and another supermarket strides confidently into a new market. This time Tesco is taking on the catwalks with the launch of a couture clothing collection.

Rosie Baker

There have been some successful examples of brands stretching into new arenas with credible and reliable brand propositions, such as O2’s move into travel insurance, home phones, finance, and healthcare.

Tesco’s own move into becoming a mobile phone network is a case in point, demonstrating that it can be a well-respected and reliable player in markets outside the supermarket sphere.

However, the latest revelation that the supermarket is to move into couture has left me reeling and asking whether supermarkets should stick to what they’re good at, or is the supermarket giant in fact capable of anything?

I think there’s a line for how far you can stretch a brand and Tesco has crossed it this time.

Tesco is great at clothing and its clothing business has grown from £700m to £1bn in the past five years under the guidance of Terry Green who will head up the new clothing range, but high fashion is a different kettle of fish.

Its existing clothing offer ticks all the boxes and is a worthy competitor of many high street fashion chains. It’s good value for money and it doesn’t fall apart after one wear.

But regardless of how desirable a piece of clothing is, how haute can Tesco couture actually be?

It looks like Tesco is trying to replicate the ’good, best and better’ tiered system it has in its food business from basics through to Finest and the new launch is designed to be Tesco’s Finest clothes.

While it works in food, I don’t think it will translate into clothing.

Tesco Finest food ranges may well be very good food but they are far from Michelin starred. Likewise, Tesco’s clothing may well be very good, but it will struggle to be couture.

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