Tesco is developing a high street ‘Tesco Express food-to-go’ store to rival Pret a Manger, Eat and Greggs, it is understood.

Grocery Insight analyst Steve Dresser said Tesco could be targeting up to 80 outlets in London to take a slice of the lunchtime food market.

Analysts said the stores would be smaller than 3,000 sq ft and located near to an existing Metro or Express store, according to The Guardian.

Tesco has been experimenting with its food offer, trialling a pizza delivery service from its Extra store in Streatham, south London, and it is set to launch a hamburger restuarant in Osterley, west London, this month.

Tesco also owns Harris + Hoole cafes and restaurant chain Giraffe.

Dresser suggested the new Tesco stores would be an “effective hook” for customers, but warned that staffing costs were high and that there was potential for wastage.

He added: “It won’t solve Tesco’s problems, but it brings them full circle with the focus back on food.

“It will help with the battle for hearts and minds and help to drive customers to larger stores. It’s also another way to drive Clubcard scans. Food-to-go is high footfall and naturally opens up opportunities for click-and-collect.”

Tesco is expected to announce a 10% decline in full-year trading profit to £3.2bn next week. This week it was revealed that Tesco’s sales fell 3% in the 12 weeks to 30 March.