Tesco.com sales close up on £1bn mark for 2005

LONDON - Sales for Tesco.com almost reached £1bn in 2005, with profits for the online store up by 55% to £56.2m.

Sales rose at Tesco.com by 32% for the year, now representing over 3% of its UK sales of £32.7bn. Tesco said it had 750,000 regular customers and 200,000 orders a week online.

Online retailing has become so big for Tesco that the company has opened a Tesco.com-only store in Croydon. The store appears to be a normal warehouse from the outside, but on the inside it has been laid out like a normal Tesco superstore, so that the same technology used to fulfil Tesco.com at other local stores can be used.

The Croydon store is the first of these formats. It opened in February, in response to exceptional demand for online shopping in the south-east of London.

This could be rolled out in other areas of the country where the existing Tescos are exceptionally busy or there are few stores, although Tesco said only a few locations were likely to be suitable for the format.

The company unveiled the Tesco.com results on Tuesday as it reported final figures for 2005, showing that sales across the group rose by 13% to £41.8bn, with profits of £2.2bn.

Tesco also confirmed plans to free up money tied up in property, with £5bn cash to be released over the next five years, and said it was investing £100m in technology to help it become more environmentally sustainable. This includes installing wind turbines at some stores.

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