British retailer Tesco is to return to the United States with its F&F clothing business only seven months after offloading its loss-making US supermarkets operation Fresh & Easy.

Tesco, the world's third-largest retailer, said it would open seven stores on the east coast this year with its US franchise partner Retail Group of America.

Starting near Boston in May it will then open four stores in New York and others in Philadelphia and Newport, Virginia, competing against value-priced clothing retailers such as Target,  JC Penney and Gap's Old Navy.

F&F has expanded quickly since its launch in Britain and Ireland and in 2001 and now operates in 21 countries.

Tesco, which is struggling to improve its British business despite billions of pounds of investment, handed Fresh & Easy to billionaire Ron Burkle's Yucaipa investment company in September, marking the end of a six-year attempt to crack the US market.

It had said in April last year that it would sell or close Fresh & Easy, booking restructuring and other one-off costs of £1bn.

The company is expected to report a 6% fall in annual profit on Wednesday. That would be its second decline in as many years, increasing the pressure on boss Phil Clarke.