LONDON —Tesco is searching for consumer and digital PR support, the Holmes Report can reveal.

The UK's biggest retailer is understood to have briefed a handful of agencies  for the lucrative assignment. Tesco does not typically use a significant level of consumer PR support, but has worked with DeVries Slam for the past year. The company also retains separate firms for CSR, internal comms and City PR duties.

According to an agency source familiar with the situation, the company's needs are broad, covering consumer PR, digital and content. Tesco has struggled to grow its core UK business in recent years, despite launching a high-profile recovery plan after a profit warning two years ago.

Like many of its rivals, Tesco suffered a slump in Christmas sales, which were down 2.4% in December.

In addition to supermarket rivals such as Sainsbury and Morrisons, Tesco's non-food business is under attack from online retailers like Amazon. Long a magnet for NGO criticism, the company's reputation has also been affected by last year's horsemeat scandal. 

Tesco moved its City PR account to Brunswick in 2012, after 12 years with Maitland, a move that was partly influenced by the company's international goals. Although UK business accounts for three-quarters of Tesco profits, the company believes that international markets can help drive growth, despite well-publicised problems in the US, Japan and China.

The company also works with GolinHarris on internal comms and has previously tasked Launch Group with CSR support. A Tesco spokesperson confirmed the search, but further details were not forthcoming as this story went live.