Tesco aims to conquer the ‘back to school’ market with a price comparison campaign against WHSmith.

Tesco, which already goes head-to-head with clothing retailers on the price of uniforms ahead of the start of the school year, has this week launched national newspaper and poster ads comparing the prices of stationery products including Pritt Stick, Tipp-Ex and Berol pens.

Tesco usually uses price comparison advertising against the other supermarkets, but is branching out as it seeks to dominate in non-food categories. In June it launched its cheapest ever school uniform at £3.75, undercutting Asda’s George offer of £4.75. Asda, however, hit back with a 100-day satisfaction guarantee for its uniforms.

Share in the back to school market has been left wide open after the demise of Woolworths last year. Woolies was one of the largest suppliers of uniforms and stationery.

The price comparison ads also remind shoppers they can “double up” on Clubcard points across the stationery category. Tesco launched its double points for Clubcard customer initiative on Monday, after the relaunch of its loyalty card in May.

The ads and Clubcard offer came as Tesco suffered a market share decline in the TNS Worldpanel figures for the 12 weeks to August 9, from 31.2% to 31% year on year, although sales rose 5%.

Oriel Securities analyst Jonathan Pritchard said the timing of the Clubcard offer “does smack of a move to prop up short-term trading”. He said: “It seems so far the new Discounter range and the earlier double Clubcard points promotion have been marketed and executed with little of the usual Tesco verve.”

➤ Tesco faces the threat of strike action over the closure of its distribution centre at Chepstow in Wales, and its move to a new premises at Pilning nine miles away. The 750 workers are in discussions with union Unite, and are organising a re-ballot that could lead to strike action.