Despite having their headquarters in humble Cheshunt, Tesco are far more than a provincial retailer. Though they do have an image among the public as being a cosy, part-of-the-family brand – though perhaps not as much as rivals Morrisons and Sainsbury’s – the company that started small is now the second largest retailer in the world when measured by profits (only sitting behind Walmart) or third if you go off revenues (with Carrefour just ahead).
Despite the huge amount of revenue, Tesco only operates in 12 countries worldwide, and is only market leader in 4 of those – the UK, Republic of Ireland, Malaysia, and Thailand. In 2013, they had revenues of £64 billion – something made all the more incredible when you consider how the company specialise in low-price, budget groceries.
Starting out when Polish Jewish immigrant Jack Cohen started selling surplus groceries at Well Street Market in Hackney, the name came about after Cohen bough some tea from Thomas Edward Stockwell (TES) and added the first two letters of his name (CO), and from there, the rise was meteoric. The selling of excess at a time of war has lead to some claims that Tesco originally started out as a black market stall from detractors.
The first Tesco store was opened in 1929 in Edgware, and from there the company grew to the point where they first floated on the stock market shortly after the second world war in 1947.
Originally starting out by selling just groceries, Tesco has followed the market trend of branching out into other, non-food areas. This has also been done by the likes of ASDA, Sainsbury’s – and, to a lesser extent – Morrisons. Clothing (through their own Florence and Fred brand), electronics (even launching their own tablet recently in the Hudl), financial services, mobile phones (Tesco Mobile being their own, home-brand operator), online DVD rental, Internet Service Providing and music downloads.
Like pretty much every other retailer, Tesco has moved into selling their wares online too – and the breadth of their product lines and the low costs involved has lead some to compare them to web giant Amazon, a company that Tesco certainly see as a competitor in the battle for home shopping through the internet.
However, their primary business still remains as delivering cheap, discount food items to families around the world – whether that be through ‘brands’ such as Heinz, or done through their own ranges like Tesco Value (their low-price line), Tesco Finest (their line in premium foods) or Tesco Healthy Living (the company’s low calorie options).
Types of Tesco stores
In line with their competitors, Tesco have a large array of different store formats in order to capitalise on different markets.
The largest of the Tesco store layouts, they are what would on the continent classically be called Hypermarkets – enormous, normally out of town shopping centres that stock almost all ranges and lines that the company provide. The number of new Tesco Extra stores is being increased by around 20 a year.
What would be considered a standard supermarket, with a comprehensive amount of products, but usually tailored to the individual markets that they cover.
Tesco Metro & Express
These formats that are most numerous in the UK – these are small, convenience store layouts, that are usually aimed towards a local community. Their move into this market has met with much opposition from those who claim the company is trying to force traditional, independent retailers out of business by massively undercutting their prices. This had lead to an awful lot of smaller businesses having to stop trading due to the massive success of the Tesco Express format.
Though not associated with the Tesco brand – largely thanks to their name being missing from the title – the company is wholly owned by the company. They fill the roll of traditional corner shops, but many in the media have criticised Tesco for using the format to charge up to 14% more for like-for-like products that would be found in a Tesco Express.
Tesco Customer Services – 0843 504 0454