Tesco will next month become the first UK grocer to start selling clothing online, in an effort to grab a greater slice of the value fashion market.

The supermarket giant has pencilled in October 25 to start e-tailing 300 lines of women’s clothing online, including its Cherokee and F&F brands.

The online launch ahead of the critical Christmas trading period will send shockwaves though the value fashion sector.

Tesco is to combine the initiative with the relaunch of its fashion web site, Clothingattesco.com. Customers will be able to use the site’s fashionfile area to customise and store their favourite fashion tips and advice, make recommendations to friends, collect reward points and enter exclusive competitions. They will be linked through to Tesco Direct’s web site to make purchases.

Tesco head of marketing for clothing Sean Murray said: “By selling online, we will be able to reach a greater number of customers eager to buy items from our specialist collections.”

A source close to Tesco said that the potential for online clothing sales is “substantial” if it mirrors the booming sales in its supermarkets and non-food Homeplus stores.

The transactional push throws down the gauntlet to rival grocers Asda and Sainsbury’s, which have not yet moved clothing online. Asda is expected to launch its George clothing online next year, but Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King has previously said that the retailer will not introduce its Tu clothing on the web before 2010.

Next week, Tesco is expected to report group trading profits up 9.1 per cent to£1.24 billion for the first half.