Tesco has today launched an offensive against rival Asda promising to pay shoppers “double the difference” on any products that are cheaper at the Walmart-owned grocer.

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Tesco has also launched £200m of price cuts including reductions on 1,000 products such as fruit, vegetables, bread, meat and medicines.

The move comes as Sir Terry Leahy – who is 55 today – retires, and his successor Phil Clarke takes over on Tuesday.

Clarke will want to make his mark early, and will want to stamp on Asda’s promotional campaign. Asda relaunched its Asda Price Guarantee at the start of the year, promising to be 10% cheaper than its rivals. Last week Asda chief executive Andy Clarke said the price guarantee was a “game changer” and had helped revive its flagging sales.

Tesco’s “double the difference” pledge asks shoppers to keep their receipt from their Tesco shop. They can then enter their details online and Tesco will reply with an email in 36 hours containing a link showing shoppers whether or not the shop was cheaper at Asda. They will then be offered a voucher if Asda is cheaper.

Tesco UK chief executive Richard Brasher said the money-back pledge and price cuts are being introduced to help shoppers struggling with tighter household budgets.

Separately, Tesco has signed an agreement to set up a joint venture for three new Lifespace malls in China.

50% of the joint venture will be owned by a consortium of Asian investors including Singapore’s Metro Holdings. The total value of the project is around £170m with Tesco and the consortium each investing around £30m of equity. Debt will be provided by banks including the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Standard Chartered Bank.

The three malls are in Shenyang, Xiamen and Fuzhou and each include a Tesco hypermarket as anchor tenant.

Tesco currently operates four Lifespace malls and 93 hypermarkets in China.