Tesco claims to have become the world’s largest internet grocer. Home cyber-shopping is now available through one hundred Tesco outlets nationwide, with some 250,000 customers generating predicted sales for 1999 of £120m.

The City was impressed. As one EC2 bookie put it: 'Given the valuations of some internet stocks, it shows there’s hidden value in Tesco.com.' [Perhaps he/she should look beyond sales figures and enquire how much Tesco’s e-venture is losing and when it expects to break even?]

Tesco’s boast came as the supermarketeer unveiled a third quarter trading statement claiming growth in total UK like-for-like sales of 4.1% for the nine months to 30 September. This, said Tesco, demonstrated that it was 'continuing to out-perform the industry and gain further market share'. Average comparable sales growth in the sector was around 1%.

Challenging Tesco’s braggadocio, Asda is to offer free home delivery to internet customers. Previously, the Wal-Mart-owned chain offered free delivery only to those spending £150 or more via its home shopping service. Delivery fees have now been axed altogether whereas Tesco charges £5.00 for home delivery. Said Asda chief executive Allan Leighton: 'I think it will change the way food shopping is done.'