Tesco has apppointed former Bibendum chief Dan Jago as head of wine – with the clear intention of going head to head with Waitrose.

Jago, who has been joint managing director of upmarket London wine merchants Bibendum since 2001, takes over from Mark Murphy as category director of beers, wines and spirits at Tesco at the beginning of May.

Murphy goes to Japan – where Tesco has some 100 stores – to head the drinks division there.

Jago told decanter.com, ‘there is no reason why Tesco should not be as highly regarded at the premium end as Waitrose.’

‘Waitrose do a great job supplying wine for their top end customers. Tesco have top end customers as well and we need to increase our range of interesting and eclectic wines.’

Jago cited the type of customer who wanted something with a ‘wow factor’ to impress at a dinner party.

He gave the example of South African winemaker Beyers Truter’s Pinotage made for the Tesco Finest range, and a ‘delicious’ Central Otago Pinot Noir at £12.99, and said he would be actively seeking out highly-respected winemakers to make more of that kind of premium wine for Tesco. ‘There will certainly be more exploration of that sort of thing.’

Jago said he would like to see an eclectic range in every Tesco store – depending on size and shelf capacity. ‘There is no reason why the smaller outlets shouldn’t have a small but eclectic range.’

He will be supported by specialist managers in each category. He is also in charge of Tesco’s burgeoning overseas operations – in Thailand, Czech Republic, the US and elsewhere.

As for the growing anti-supermarket movement, most vocally expressed by the ‘Tescopoly’ movement, whose website advises on best ways ‘to restrain the power and growth of Tesco’, Jago said attacking Tesco was a case of ‘tall poppy syndrome’ – ‘success always brings its detractors.’

Written by Adam Lechmere