UK shop timelines, numbers of stores – For Tesco only

 

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Tesco

 

Tesco House, PO Box 18, Delamere Road, Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, EN8 9SL, 01992 632 222.

www.tesco.com

 

Tesco general chronology

(see below for Tesco international expansion)

(see below for product diversification)

(see below for Tesco store numbers)

 

The start of Tesco

Tesco was founded by Jack Cohen; born 1898, he was the son of East European Jewish migrants, and learnt the hard end of the grocery trade from the street market stalls of east London.  In 1919 Mr Cohen began selling NAAFI surplus vegetables from a stall in East London, financing this by investing his £30 serviceman’s gratuity after serving in the Flying Corps.  On the first day he made £1 profit.  Mr Cohen soon acquired the nickname ‘Slasher Jack’ from the way he ruthlessly cut grocery prices (see ‘Piggly Wiggly’stores).  In 1929 Mr Cohen began selling his groceries from fixed shops.  The name Tesco first appeared on a lock-up store in Burnt Oak, near Edgware, north London; the company ‘Tesco’ was founded in 1932.  The name ‘Tesco’, derived from T E Stockwell (Jack Cohen’s tea supplier) and Jack Cohen, was first used on tea, in 1924. 

 

In the 1930s, Tesco moved into fixed shop premises in the new London suburbs, at cheap rents.  Mr Cohen opened a second market stall in Tooting, south London, in 1930, and Tesco stores opened in Becontree (east London) and Edmonton (north London) in 1931[1].  Note that whilst today these are lower-class suburbs, in the 1930s they were middle class districts.  Mr Cohen’s ambition was to bring cheap groceries to the moderately affluent, and they loved it.

The move to self-service

1946, Jack Cohen visited the USA and was impressed by the self-service system at their supermarkets. This enabled more people to be served faster, with lower labour costs.  In 1950, The Tesco branch in St Albans, small by 21st century standards (200 square metres) was the first Tesco to be converted to self service.  This, or the Sainsbury Croydon branch, also converted to self service in 1950, was the UK’s first self-service supermarket.

The move to supermarkets

1956, Tesco opened its first supermarket, in a former cinema at Maldon, Essex.

1961 Tesco opened a 1,600 square metre (sales area) supermarket in Leicester, which was in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest store in Europe

1967, Tesco opened a 9,600 square metre store at Westbury, Wiltshire; this was exceptionally large for its time.

1968 The term ‘superstore’ was first applied to a Tesco store; to its branch at Crawley, West Sussex.

The abolition of RPM (Tescopolitics)

1960s, Tesco lobbied Parliament to have RPM (Resale Price Maintenance) abolished, its efforts supported by Edward Heath. RPM had forbidden retailers, who could buy in bulk, from undercutting the prices of smaller shops, so protecting smaller retailers. Large retailers such as Tesco got around this by issuing stamps with purchases, and these stamps could be redeemed for catalogue goods, an effective discount.

1964, Parliament in the UK passed the Resale Prices Act, abolishing RPM. By 1979, RPM only remained on books and pharmaceutical goods.

Tesco; the modern era

1973. The oil price shock led to a three-day week in the UK, and a recession. Tesco responded by ditching Green Shield Stamps and replacing them with lower prices. Green Shield Stamps finally disappeared in 1979.

1979, Terry Leahy joined Tesco, as a marketing executive.

1982, Tesco first used computerised checkouts. Tesco had 70 ‘superstores’.

1985, Tesco opened its 100th superstore (in Brent Park, Neasden, London)

1991 Tesco became Britain’s biggest independent petrol retailer. Offering cheap petrol was one way the supermarkets could persuade more customers with cars to come and shop there.

1992, Tesco began opening small format ‘Metro’ stores, the first was at Covent Garden, central London. This was to catch the office worker and tourist trade, people who might not have the time to shop at a larger supermarket.

1994 Tesco began opening ‘Express’ stores.  The first was on a garage forecourt in Barnes, south-west London.

1994 Tesco launched its Clubcard, a loyalty card giving shoppers effectively 1% off their shopping bill, or more if there were special bonus points awarded. These loyalty cards were once seem by the supermarkets as a way of persuading shoppers to stick with one store, hence the name, but shoppers simply obtained all the ‘loyalty cards’ going and continued to use different stores. However the main value of the card to the shop was that, linked to other electronic data such as credit card addresses, it gave a detailed profile of shopper habits and preferences, even the times they shopped. This could be used to target the supermarket’s own direct mailing, or the information could be sold as a valuable commodity to other marketers. Also, the cards initially produced more information than the supermarkets could possibly handle, although rapid advances in computer processing power are ameliorating that problem. Nevertheless, some stores have dropped their loyalty cards in favour of the competitive edge of lower prices.

1996, Tesco overtook Sainsbury in market share to become the UK’s biggest supermarket.

1997, Tesco opened the first of its ‘Extra’ format large stores at Pitsea, Essex. This store had around 10,000 square metres sales area.

1998, Following a deregulation of UK shop opening hours in 1987, Tesco now had 28 stores opening 24 hours a day except Sundays, when a maximum of six hours opening were now allowed.

March 1999, Tesco now had 83 stores on 24-hour opening.

2000, Tesco launched Tesco.com.

8/2000 Tesco now had 230 stores open ’24 hours’. The 1950 Shops Act had prohibited Sunday opening or shops open after 8pm on weekdays. Only ‘perishable items’ could be sold on a Sunday. In practice, small ‘corner’ shops widely flouted this restriction, and local councils turned a blind eye, but the Act was enforced for larger shops. In any case, what was ‘perishable’ was highly complex to define, and led to anomalies such as it being legal to sell periodicals, such as pornographic magazines, on a Sunday, but not books, for example Bibles. The 1950 Shops Act was repealed in 1994, and Sunday opening allowed for up to 6 hours. Thereafter, many large supermarkets were open from Monday morning to Saturday evening, and from 10-4, or less often 11-5, on Sundays.

5/2003, TESCO ENTERED THE TOP TEN OF WORLD RETAILERS.  It leapt from no.11 in 2002 to 8th in 2003, due to a series of acquisitions and worldwide expansion as well as organic growth.  Non-UK trade now accounts for 18% of Tesco’s total sales.

8/2004. Tesco now sells 840 million litres of milk a year, 12% of all milk sold in the UK.

2/2005, Verdict reported that Tesco had, by end-2004, a 5% share of local convenience-store food retailing, up 1% in a year; in 1999 Tesco had just 0.9% of neighbourhood food retailing. This put Tesco just behind the shares of the Co-op (5.5%), Spar (5.4%), and Musgrave (5.3%) (Musgrave has gained market share by its takeover of Londis). Somerfield had a 3.1% share of local food retailing.

2/2006 Tesco announced plans to open ‘hundreds’ of convenience stores, similar to its successful ‘Express’ format in the UK, on the west coast of the USA.  UK retailers have frequently faced difficulties on attempting an entry into the US market, but anti-monopoly policies in Europe have restricted Tesco’s available avenues for expansion.  The first Tesco US stores are to open in late 2007 in southern California, Arizona, and Nevada (Financial Times, 28 June 2007, p.9).  Most of the new stores will be in the prosperous suburbs of cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.  However some Tesco stores will be in deprived, mainly Hispanic-populated, inner suburbs, far from existing major supermarkets, where there are only small independent stores with high food prices.  Many of these independent stores will likely be forced to close, even as the more efficient ones reduce prices and improve their offering to try and match Tesco.  On average, local grocery prices in these deprived neighbourhoods will fall, but some people may have a longer journey to get their daily foodstuffs. Tesco has acquired many former pubs, which have been closing at a rapid rate in the UK due to alcohol duties, drink-driving enforcement, energy costs, and cash-strapped customers, and turning these into ‘Express’ stores.

12/2009, Tesco began re-fascia-ing some of its garage forecourt stores to the One-Stop format.  Tesco acquired the One Stop fascia in 10/2002 when it bought the T & S chain; as detailed below (see Tesco corporate takeovers and sales), some One Stop fascias were retained, although under Tesco ownership.  There were suspicions that this would facilitate Tesco charging higher prices at these smaller stores than if they were fascia-ed as Tesco, since many shoppers are unaware that Tesco in fact owns One Stop (The Grocer, 19/12/2009, p.10).

 

Tesco international expansion (see also Tesco corporate takeovers and sales)

 

1994 Tesco entered Hungary, purchasing the Globus chain.  Tesco’s first entry to Eastern Europe.

1995 Tesco entered Poland, purchasing the Savia chain.  By 2009 Tesco had 301 stores, with 24,780 staff, in Poland.

1996 Tesco entered the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

1997 Tesco entered Ireland.

1997 Tesco entered Thailand.

1999 Tesco entered South Korea. 

2000 Tesco entered Taiwan.

2001 Tesco entered Malaysia

2003 Tesco entered Turkey and Japan.

2004 Tesco entered China.

2005, Tesco exited Taiwan; its stores were handed to Carrefour in exchange for Carrefour’s stores in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, reinforcing Tesco’s already-successful presence in those countries

2007, Tesco entered the USA.  It opened Fresh and Easy stores, the first was in California.  However by early 2009 there were signs that the Fresh and easy format was not doing as well as Tesco first hoped.  The Credit Crunch, which began in the US as households there began to default on over-extended mortgages, did not help; it was also possible that Tesco researchers had overestimated the balance of fresh food as against frozen ready meals consumed by US households (see ‘Marketing’, 4/3/2009, p.20).  See Grocery Retailing in the USA for further details.

In 2013 Tesco decided a loss of £1.2 billion on Fresh and Easy was enough and pulled out.

2008, Tesco began operating its smaller Express format in China; the first such store was in Shanghai.

2011 Tesco exited from Japan.  Problems included the Japanese consumer preference for small purchases from local shops, and for using vending machines.

2013 Tesco exited from the USA, see 2007 Fresh and Easy above. 

2013, Tesco exited from China.

 

Tesco product diversification

 

1960

Non-food products

1974

petrol

1993

Wild venison, from Scotland

1996

Internet shopping

1996

Tesco Personal Finance

1997

Tesco credit card

1999

Mobile phones

2000

Life insurance (Norwich Union)

2004

Mortgages

2007

Property conveyancing service

2010

Tresco began building flats/houses

 

2011, Tesco now sell, amongst other things – beauty services, hairdressing, pawnbroking, engagement rings, estate agency services, houses, divorce services, and wetsuits.  Online, there is now Tescocars.com, selling second hand cars.

2011, Tesco announced plans to enter the ‘beauty’ market.  Treatments such as leg waxing, make-up advice, tanning, and hairdressing are to be offered in a move whoch wpould challenge both Boots and many independent beauty, hiardressing, salons.  Botox and brush-up with your baked beans, anyone?

 

May 2011 – is there life beyond Tesco?

Now you can live in a Tesco house, bought through Tesco’s conveyancing service, with money saved at Tesco’s Bank (sorry, you’ll have to buy the electricity and gas from Sainsburys); stock it with Tesco electronic goods and Tesco furniture (yes they sell beds and wardrobes too, but not antiques as yet), wear Tesco clothes, eat Tesco food, commute to a job at Tesco on a Tesco moped, or in a Tesco second hand car, fuelled by Tesco petrol, and if you fall ill, phone work on a Tesco mobile and then medicate with products from Tesco pharmacy, ordered online on Tesco’s Internet site.  Tesco won’t get you a GP though.  Get engaged with a Tesco ring, (you can always divorce using Tesco too), but don’t have any children, as Tesco don’t do childcare services. You’ll also have to co-habit, as Tesco don’t do weddings.  Holidays? – visit a different Tesco village, or go diving in a Tesco wetsuit.  Education? - go to a school in the new Tesco villages.  Wash your clothes in a Tesco washing machine, although if it breaks down, Tesco don’t do Laundromat services.  When you die, your funeral service can be paid for through a Tesco Funeral Plan (make sure you used Tesco’s DIY will-writing pack, although Tesco don’t offer legal services if there’s a dispute – that won’t bother you anyway). 

 

Tesco only need to run a hospital, a honeymoon suite, and warm their stores using heat from the crematorium (yes, some crematoria are considering re-cycling the heat they generate, but Tesco isn’t in on this...yet) and your entire life, from pre-conception to post death, could be lived inside Tesco.

 

Tesco store numbers

 

Year

Store numbers (UK)

Store numbers (non-UK)

Total store numbers

1931

4

 

 

1939

100

 

 

1955

150

 

 

1959

400

 

 

1972

790

 

 

1974

771

 

 

1979

571

 

 

1980

532

 

 

1983

369

 

 

1984

369

 

 

1987

377

 

 

1990

379

 

 

1993

 

 

428

1994

416

103

519

1995

519

 

513

1996

545

 

566

1997

568

 

572

1998

618

 

 

1999

639

182

821

2000

659

186

845

2001

692

215

907

2002

730

221

951

2003

1,982

309

2,291

2004

1,877

441

2,318

2005

1,779 *

586

2,365

2006

1,897

775

2,672

2007

 

 

 

2008

 

 

 

2009

2,282

2,018

4,300

2010

2,482

 

 

2011

2,703*

2,750

5,453

2013

3,146

 

 

Year

Store numbers (UK)

Store numbers (non-UK)

Total store numbers

 

1956, Tesco opened its first supermarket in a former cinema in Maldon, Essex.

1968 Tesco opened its first superstore, at Crawley, Sussex.

During the 1970s many small inner city stores were closed. They were too small to have adequate economies of scale and were in areas of low spending power.  Of the 518 Tesco stores of under 500 square metres sales area in 1972, just 190 remained by 1980. However improved computer and distribution technology means the smaller stores now operated by the main supermarket chains in the 21st century now can enjoy economies of scale similar to the larger superstores.

(A West, ‘Handbook of Retailing’, 1988, pp.39-40), (The Times, 10/2/2006, p.48)

* 2005, Tesco now has 100 Extra hypermarkets, 446 superstores, 160 Metro stores, 546 Express neighbourhood stores, and 527 T & S stores not bearing the Tesco fascia

Tesco Ireland is now the largest food retailer in Ireland, with 79 stores and employing 10,200 people.

 

 



[1] A Seth et al, ,The Grocers,, Kogan Page, London, 1999, p.24