Getting the most bang for your buck when grocery shopping can be difficult, but there are plenty of options in the UK: Asda, Aldi, Lidl, and the ever-popular Tesco.
Tesco has been around for over 100 years, which certainly says something about the company’s loyal customer base and successful operations. But what is Tesco? How would one define this company? Here are the answers you need!
What Is Tesco?
Tesco is an international chain of grocery stores and hypermarkets based out of Welwyn Garden City, England, as of 2023. The company was once the second-largest retailer globally (outside of China) but fell to 17th. In addition to groceries, some locations sell home goods and other items. Also, Tesco does not regularly underprice competition.
To learn more about what kind of store Tesco is, what the chain is known for, why it’s been so successful (and why it’s in decline), plus what you can expect to find in-store, keep reading!
What Type Of Store Is Tesco?
Tesco stores are ubiquitous in the UK, with nearly one-third of the grocery market share.
Further, this is where Hungarians, Czechs, Slovakians, and Brits come to purchase their groceries and other household essentials.
Additionally, there are a few different types of Tesco stores, including:
- Tesco Extra: hypermarkets, with groceries and household goods
- Tesco Superstore: standard supermarkets, with a smaller variety of household goods; can also contain in-store restaurants
- Tesco Metro: urban-based shops that are smaller but still have enough variety for a grocery shop
- Tesco Express: the smallest type of shop, more like a convenience store than a grocery store, with an emphasis on snacks
- Esso: a range of gas stations and a subsidiary of ExxonMobil
As you can see, what you’ll find in-store depends on which type of Tesco you visit.
But the top three all carry, at the very least, the groceries you need to stock up for a week’s worth of meals or just to get you through to the next big shopping trip.
What Is Tesco Known For?
Tesco has been around for over a century, and with that longevity comes considerable influence. So, here are a few things Tesco is famous for:
- Tesco has been around for a long time
- Tesco “has a reputation for value, low prices and for being customer-focused.”
- “Tesco Value” and “Tesco Finest” products, the former being a Great Value (Walmart)-type range, and the latter a more upscale, premium line of goods
- Online shopping: Tesco is one of the first brick-and-mortar retailers to offer online shopping to its customers.
How Is Tesco Different?
No business becomes successful – and remains thus – without showing consumers why it’s different from the competition.
That said, one major thing that has made Tesco stand out over the year is its lower prices.
So, part of the reason Tesco has been able to offer such affordable prices on its goods is because the company maintains its own factories.
That’s right, whereas most supermarket chains rely on partnerships with manufacturers and logistics/transporters, Tesco has cut out the middleman.
Also, these factories especially have a hand in the make and manufacture of the Tesco Finest line, which features premium cheeses, pizzas, sweet treats, and much more.
Why Is Tesco So Successful?
Tesco has proven so successful over the years because flexibility is woven into the company’s business model.
Where a change is needed, the company is more than willing to go in and make the adjustment, even if that means making a significant upfront investment.
For example, when Tesco saw an opportunity to put its grocery stores in more locations, it did just that (the chain currently operates over 7,000 stores).
Also, the aforementioned Tesco factories have been a stroke genius for the company, keeping operations costs down and having all the say in the production.
What Is The Difference Between Tesco And Tesco Extra?
Tesco Extra is the hypermarket version of the company’s grocery stores, meaning it has groceries and general merchandise.
What people simply call Tesco is a Tesco Superstore, or a large grocery store with some general merchandise, but not nearly as much as the Tesco Extras.
What Does Tesco Sell?
Here, we’ll look at the different departments within a Tesco Extra to understand the breadth of what these hypermarkets offer all in one store.
- Baked goods
- Frozen foods
- Pantry essentials
- Baby items
- Health and beauty
- Home and entertaining
- Homeware and home entertainment
- Home décor
- Party/home entertainment accessories
- Outdoor equipment
- Home office supplies
- Toys and games
- Bathroom accessories
- DIY and car care
Is Tesco Cheap?
Tesco has long had a reputation for being an affordable place to buy groceries, but new competition has entered the scene.
So, how does Tesco fare compared to these other grocery stores? In a comparison of eight different UK grocery stores, Tesco scored third-highest in prices.
While the winner, Aldi, had a grocery basket full of goods with a total of 24.24 UK pounds, Tesco clocked in at 28.64.
Ultimately, four pounds is not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but if you’re a shopper who needs the absolute lowest prices, then Tesco, unfortunately, isn’t the best option.
However, its pricing is still relatively competitive. Also, if you live much closer to a Tesco than an Aldi or Lidl, it’s still an affordable grocery store, if not the very cheapest.
Who Are Tesco’s Competition?
According to the above-mentioned price comparison, Tesco’s main competitors are Aldi and Lidl’s German chains and the recently-sold Asda (formerly a Walmart subsidiary).
However, other competitors include Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Ocado, and Waitrose; the latter two were the more expensive grocers.
What Countries Does Tesco Operate In?
Currently, Tesco has locations in the UK, Czech Republic, Hungary, Ireland, and Slovakia.
However, the chain used to have stores in France, Japan, Malaysia, Poland, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, and the US but has since pulled out of all these countries.
Additionally, Tesco operates under a different name in Spain, Ibiza, Portugal, and Gibraltar, known as The Food Company. In comparison, in the US, Tesco is known as Fresh & Easy.
What Is The American Version Of Tesco?
Tesco opened its first Fresh & Easy in the US in 2007, starting with Arizona, California, and Nevada.
At its height, Tesco had 185 stores in the US, spread out among those three states. But just six years later, Tesco ended up selling the chain after reporting $1.2 billion in losses.
Two years later, in 2015, the very last Fresh & Easy store closed, marking the complete end of Tesco’s involvement in the US.
To learn more about Tesco, you can also see our posts on Tesco statistics, if Tesco price match, and if Tesco does cashback.
Tesco’s hypermarkets, mixed in with smaller stores, have withstood the test of time, one of the few grocery chains that can trace its roots over a century.
However, Tesco’s influence as a retail power has slipped in recent years, and competition in grocery is fierce, especially in the UK.
Still, its affordably priced foods and merchandise ensure that Tesco isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and customers can count on it for all their grocery needs.