Tesco will today ratchet up the pressure on the online grocer Ocado by opening its latest 'dark store' in West Sussex, creating 700 new jobs.
The opening of the high-tech facility in Crawley means the grocery giant now has five dotcom-only stores, which are used to fulfil grocery orders but don't have any customers.
Tesco uses a pick-in-store model for most of its online grocery business but plans to open more dark stores to service burgeoning demand for food home shopping in densely populated areas, such as around London.
Inside the M25 is also the heartland of Hertfordshire-based Ocado, which has never made a pre-tax profit. Ocado grew its sales by 14.2 per cent in the six weeks to 6 January, behind Tesco's Christmas growth of 18 per cent.
Barney Burgess, Tesco's chief operating officer for grocery home shopping, said: "Dot Com stores are an increasingly important part of our service for customers."