Tesco has entered the cafe market after forming a joint venture which is vying to snap up former Clinton Cards stores and transform them into upmarket coffeehouses.

Retail Week can reveal that Tesco has formed the Harris+Hoole joint venture, in which it has a minority stake, with upmarket coffee shop chain Taylor Street, which has eight stores in London.

The team will open the first store, which Taylor Street founder Nick Tolley described as “an artisan high quality coffee venture” in Amersham, Buckinghamshire later this month. Its second store will open in Uxbridge shortly after.

It is in talks with Clintons administrator Zolfo Cooper to buy 10 to 15 stores.

Tolley said the move was a “long term play” by Tesco to test the coffee-on-the-go market but declined to reveal the grocer’s investment. The stores will not carry any Tesco branding and be run by Taylor Street.

The revelation comes a week after Tesco unveiled its new Food to Go shop-in-shop in Chester where products and signage change throughout the day to promote breakfast, lunch and dinner offers.

Sainsbury’s made a play for the food on the go market with its Fresh Kitchen trial store in Fleet Street which opened last year but closed in March.

Tolley said: “It’s a long-term investment for Tesco, they are not looking to make money immediately and all profits will be reinvested.”

“We set up Taylor Street in 2006 and it has grown well and we saw an opportunity for an artisan high quality coffee venture on the high street.”