Tesco, the UK’s leading food retailer, today [Tuesday] announced it is purchasing a majority 50.1% stake in Nutri Centre, an mail order and retail group specialising in alternative medicine, for £2.93m (US$4.1m).

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Nutri Centre offers more than 22,000 product lines, 85 of which will be available in 50 Tesco stores as of today. The Tesco range will be branded as Nutri Centre@Tesco, and will be rolled out to over 200 stores, as well as being available by mail order.

Tesco will retain the services of Rohit Mehta, owner and co-founder of Nutri Centre, who has been appointed Tesco’s Healthy Living Consultant and will continue to oversee operations at Nutri Centre.

Warnings on trading downturn

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Meanwhile, Tesco yesterday echoed the pessimistic outlook of its fellow UK supermarket operators, cautioning that the currently buoyant trading pattern may not be sustained into the second half of the year. Inflation is beginning to weaken as fears of a recession mount.

The chief executive of rival food retailer Sainsbury’s, which was knocked off the top spot by Tesco a few years ago, issued a similar warning recently, as have general retailers such as Argos and HMV Media.

This said, analysts were generally upbeat about Tesco’s briefing yesterday. The group is maintaining its margins and said that operations outside the UK were performing in line with expectations.

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