Tesco PLC, together with its subsidiaries, engages in retailing and retail banking activities. It provides food products through approximately 4,752 stores in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary, as well as through online. The company is also involved in the food and drink wholesaling activities. In addition, it offers banking and insurance services in the United Kingdom. Further, the company operates a network of one stop convenience stores; and provides data science, technology, software, and consultancy services. Tesco PLC was founded in 1919 and is headquartered in Welwyn Garden City, the United Kingdom.
Jack Cohen, the son of Jewish migrants from Poland, founded Tesco in 1919 when he began to sell war-surplus groceries from a stall at Well Street Market, Hackney, in the East End of London. The Tesco brand first appeared in 1924. The name came about after Jack Cohen bought a shipment of tea from Thomas Edward Stockwell. He made new labels using the initials of the supplier's name , and the first two letters of his surname , forming the word TESCO. After experimenting with his first permanent indoor market stall at Tooting in November 1930, Jack Cohen opened the first Tesco shop in September 1931 at 54 Watling Street, Burnt Oak, Edgware, Middlesex. Tesco was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1947 as Tesco Stores Limited. The first self-service shop opened in St Albans in 1956 , and the first supermarket in Maldon in 1956. In 1961 Tesco Leicester made an appearance in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest shop in Europe.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Tesco grew organically, and also through acquisitions, until it owned more than 800 shops. The company purchased 70 Williamson's shops , 200 Harrow Stores outlets , 212 Irwins shops , 97 Charles Phillips shops and the Victor Value chain .Jack Cohen's business motto was "pile it high and sell it cheap", to which he added an internal motto of "YCDBSOYA" which he used to motivate his sales force.
In May 1987, Tesco completed its hostile takeover of the Hillards chain of 40 supermarkets in the North of England for £220 million.In 1994, the company took over the supermarket chain William Low after fighting off Sainsbury's for control of the Dundee-based firm, which operated 57 shops. This paved the way for Tesco to expand its presence in Scotland, in which its presence was weaker than in England.Tesco introduced a loyalty card, branded 'Clubcard' in 1995, and later an Internet shopping service. In 1996 the typeface of the logo was changed to the current version with stripe reflections underneath, whilst the corporate font used for shop signage was changed from the familiar "typewriter" font that had been used since the 1970s. Overseas operations were introduced the same year. Terry Leahy assumed the role of Chief Executive on 21 February 1997, the appointment having been announced on 21 November 1995.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 Ireland and Northern Ireland, and associated businesses, for £640 million. The deal was approved by the European Commission on 6 May 1997.The company was the subject of a letter bomb campaign lasting five months from August 2000 to February 2001 as a bomber calling himself "Sally" sent letter bombs to Tesco customers and demanded that Clubcards be modified to be capable of withdrawing money from cash machines.
The company started to expand the range of products it sold during the 1960s to include household goods and clothing under the Delamare brand, and in 1974 opened its first petrol station.In July 2001, Tesco became involved in internet grocery retailing in the US when it obtained a 35% stake in GroceryWorks. In 2002, Tesco purchased 13 HIT hypermarkets in Poland. It also made a major move into the UK's convenience shop market with its purchase of T & S Stores, owner of 870 convenience shops in the One Stop, Dillons and Day & Nite chains in the UK.In June 2003, Tesco purchased the C Two-Network in Japan. It also acquired a majority stake in the Turkish supermarket chain Kipa. In January 2004, Tesco acquired Adminstore, owner of 45 Cullens, Europa, and Harts convenience shops, in and around London.In Thailand, Tesco Lotus was a joint venture of the Charoen Pokphand Group and Tesco, but facing criticism over the growth of hypermarkets CP Group sold its Tesco Lotus shares in 2003. In late 2005 Tesco acquired the 21 remaining Safeway/BP shops after Morrisons dissolved the Safeway/BP partnership. In mid-2006 Tesco purchased an 80% stake in Casino's Leader Price supermarkets in Poland, which were then rebranded as small Tesco shops.On 9 February 2006, Tesco announced plans to move into the United States by opening a chain of small format groceries in the Western states in 2007 named Fresh & Easy.
In 2010, Tesco started funding a small film studio intended to produce Tesco exclusive direct-to-DVD films. The first film was released on 6 September called Paris Connections, based on a popular novel by Jackie Collins.Tesco confirmed in April 2013 that it was pulling out of the US market , at a reported cost of £1.2 billion. In September 2013, Tesco announced that it would sell the business to Ronald Burkle's Yucaipa Companies for an undisclosed amount. That same month, Tesco launched its first tablet computer, a seven-inch model called Hudl. Also in 2013, Tesco purchased the restaurant and cafe chain Giraffe for £48.6 million.On 1 September 2014, Dave Lewis, previously of Unilever, took over as CEO. In January 2015, Lewis announced plans to close the company's head office in Cheshunt and 43 loss-making shops in the near future, and the cancellation of 49 new large supermarket developments. The shop closures were expected to make 2,000 staff redundant, while a further £250 million of cost-cutting measures were planned.In January 2015, Tesco confirmed the sale of its Blinkbox on-demand video service and its fixed-line telephone and broadband business to TalkTalk. On 26 January 2015, Tesco sold the Blinkbox Music streaming service to Guvera, and confirmed it would close its Blinkbox Books service by the end of February 2015.In April 2016, Tesco confirmed the sale of 8.6% of its holding in Lazada Group, leaving it with an 8.3% stake. It was also reported to be seeking to sell Dobbies Garden Centres, Giraffe Restaurants and Harris + Hoole to concentrate on its main supermarket business.On 27 January 2017, it was announced that Tesco had reached an agreement to merge with Britain's biggest wholesaler Booker Group to create the UK's largest food group, there are however concerns over market dominance with Tesco being Britain's largest food retailer and Booker being the UK's largest wholesaler. It was announced in March 2017 that Trevor Masters, International Chief Executive, would be leaving in May after 38 years with the company. On 1 April, Tony Hoggett became Tesco's CEO for Asia, and Matt Simister became CEO for Central Europe. Also in April 2017, the company confirmed it would sell its in-shop opticians' business to Vision Express. In June 2017, Tesco announced a major cost-cutting initiative that would reduce the company's workforce by over 1,200 workers. Key reductions included over a quarter of its employees in Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield, and the closure of the call centre in Cardiff. The company hoped to reduce costs by £1.5 billion.In January 2019, Tesco announced another cost-cutting initiative that would close the food counters in 90 stores, affecting around 9,000 workers. In October 2019, Tesco announced that CEO Dave Lewis would step down in 2020, and would be succeeded by Ken Murphy.In December 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tesco put purchasing limits on some products , such as eggs, rice, soap, and toilet papers, in order to give everyone access to the products.
Our business was built with a simple mission to be the champion for customers, helping them to enjoy a better quality of life and an easier way of living. This hasn't changed. Customers want great products at great value which they can buy easily and it's our job to deliver this in the right way for them.
Mr. Adrian Charles Morris (Group Gen. Counsel)
Ms. Christine Heffernan (Group Communications Director)
Emma Taylor (Chief People Officer)
Ms. Sarah Fitzgerald (Head of Buying)
Duncan Hoy (Managing Director of Large Stores)
Mr. Nick Ashley (Head of Media & Campaign Planning)
Ms. Alessandra Bellini (Chief Customer Officer)
Mr. Imran Nawaz (CFO & Director)
Mr. Guus Dekkers (Chief Technology Officer)