The History of Tesco

Pages: 7 (2007 words) Published: October 14, 2008

First self service Tesco, St Albans, EnglandJack Cohen founded Tesco in 1919 when he began to sell surplus groceries from a stall in the East End of London.[4] The Tesco brand first appeared in 1924. The name came about after Jack Cohen bought a shipment of tea from T.E. Stockwell. He made new labels using the first three letters of the supplier's name (TES), and the first two letters of his surname (CO), forming the word "TESCO".[5]

The first Tesco store was opened in 1929 in Burnt Oak, Edgware, Middlesex. Tesco floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1947 as Tesco Stores (Holdings) Limited.[4] The first self service store opened in St Albans in 1947 (still operational in 2007 as a Metro),[6] and the first supermarket in Maldon in 1956.[4]

During the 1950s and the 1960s Tesco grew organically, but also through acquisitions until it owned more than 800 stores. The company purchased 70 Williamsons stores (1957), 200 Harrow Stores outlets (1959), 212 Irwins stores (1960), 97 Charles Phillips stores (1964) and the Victor Value chain (1968) (sold to Bejam in 1986).[7]

Management and strategy changes
Founder Jack Cohen was an enthusiastic advocate of trading stamps as an inducement for shoppers to patronise his stores. He signed up with Green Shield Stamps in 1963, and became one of the company's largest clients.[8]

In 1973 Jack Cohen resigned and was replaced as Chairman by his son-in-law Leslie Porter. Porter and managing director Ian MacLaurin abandoned the "pile it high sell it cheap" philosophy of Cohen which had left the company "stagnating" and with a "bad image".[9] In 1977 Tesco launched "Operation Checkout" with the abandonment of Green Shield stamps, price reductions and centralised buying for all stores. The result was a rise in market share of 4% in two months.[9]

In May 1987 Tesco completed its hostile takeover of the Hillards chain of 40 supermarkets in the North of England for £220 million.[10]


Tesco at Seacroft, Leeds. This was built as a redevelopment of the 1960s Seacroft Civic Centre.In 1994, the company took over the supermarket chain William Low, successfully fighting off Sainsbury's for control of the Dundee-based firm which operated 57 stores. This paved the way for Tesco to expand its presence in Scotland, which was weaker than in England. In 2006 Inverness was branded as "Tescotown",[11][12] because well over 50p in every £1 spent on food is believed to be spent in its three Tesco stores.[13]

Tesco introduced a loyalty card, branded 'Clubcard', in 1995 and later an Internet shopping service. As of November 2006 Tesco was the only food retailer to make online shopping profitable.[14] In 1996, the typeface of the logo was changed to the current version with stripe reflections underneath. Terry Leahy assumed the role of chief executive on 21 February 1997, the announcement having been made on 21 November 1995.[15][16]

On 21 March 1997 Tesco announced the purchase of the retail arm of Associated British Foods which consisted of the Quinnsworth, Stewarts and Crazy Prices chains in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as associated businesses for GB£640 million.[17] The deal was approved by the European Commission on 6 May 1997.[18] This acquisition gave it both a major presence in the Republic of Ireland, and a larger presence in Northern Ireland than Sainsbury's which had begun its move into the province in 1995.

In 1997, Tesco Stores Limited and Esso (part of Exxonmobil ) forged a business alliance that included several petrol filling stations on lease from Esso, where Tesco would operate the store under the Express format. In turn, Esso would operate the forecourts and sell their fuel via the Tesco store. Ten years later, over 600 Tesco/Esso stores can now be found across the United Kingdom.


Trolley shelterIn July 2001 it became involved in internet grocery retailing in the USA when it obtained a 35% stake in...
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