5 Forces & Tesco

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Classical economics predicts that rivalry between companies should drive profits to zero. This is partly down to the threat of substitutes. For instance, Tesco has competition from companies like Sainsbury that can provide substitutes for their goods. This drives the prices of groceries down in both companies.

Buyer power also acts to force prices down. If beans are too expensive in Tesco, buyers will exercise their power and move to Sainsbury. Fortunately for Tesco, there are few other large supermarket companies. This means the market is disciplined — the supermarkets have a disciplined approach to price setting. Discipline stops them destroying each other in a profit war.

Supplier power is an important part of the Porters five forces model. Implications for Tesco are many. Supplier power is wielded by suppliers demanding that retailers pay a certain price for their goods. If retailers don't pay the price, they don't get the goods to sell. But large supermarkets, like Tesco, have an overwhelming advantage over the small shopkeeper—they can dictate the price they pay the supplier. If the supplier does not reduce the price, they will be left with a much smaller market for their produce.

Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury and other supermarket chains put up considerable barriers to entry. Anyone starting up a new supermarket chain has barriers imposed on them, implicitly or explicitly, by the existing supermarkets. For instance, Tesco may have cornered the market for certain goods; the new supermarket will not be able to find cheap, reliable suppliers. Tesco also has the advantage of economies of scale. The amount it pays suppliers, per-item, is a lot less than the corner shop. It achieves this, partly, through buying large volumes of goods. A small supermarket chain can only buy a relatively small volume of goods, at greater expense.

Other industries
Before developing a Porters five forces model consider other industries, from real estate agencies to the...
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