Tesco is to launch a mini Argos-style service inside its non-food Homeplus stores this year, firing another warning shot across the bows of its catalogue giant rival.

The grocer will introduce a 10,000 sq ft storage area for stocking substantially more Tesco Direct products at its new Homeplus store in Cribbs Causeway, Bristol, from July, similar to Argos.

Existing Homeplus stores have a Tesco Direct service desk where customers can order and collect products at a later date. But the new format will offer more stock from the Tesco Direct web site, for immediate collection.

A Tesco spokeswoman said: “The main difference is that customers can browse, buy and carry home their purchases.”

The UK’s leading grocer launched Tesco Direct, its combined non-food catalogue and web offer, in September 2006. It has seven Homeplus stores, which range from 35,000 to 50,000 sq ft. Previously, Tesco has said it wants 10 further Home-plus stores, while plans for its first department store in town centres emerged this year.

Retail Knowledge Bank senior partner Robert Clark said Argos and Woolworths had most to lose from Tesco expanding its non-food catalogue business. “I think this is likely to be a major threat to Argos and Woolies,” he said.

However, Clark thought it likely that Tesco would not launch standalone Tesco Direct stores for the foreseeable future and warned that it faced the problem of alienating UK customers by being too ubiquitous.