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Tesco taking the bull by the horns

As expected, Tesco has unveiled its discount store concept today. It will be called as ‘Jack’s’, named after the company’s founder Jack Cohen. The initial details are as follows: 1. This new store is touted to be cheapest in the town. 2. 10-15 new stores will be opened over the next six months. 3. 2,600 products will be sold (vs 20,000 in a typical Tesco store). Out of the total, 1,800 would be Jack’s-branded items. 4. As much as 80% of the products will be grown, reared or made in the UK. 5. Management plans to offer a cashier-less shopping experience (scan and pay using a mobile app) vs self-service machines or traditional check-outs. With this step, the UK’s largest retailer expects to take the fight back to discounters Aldi and Lidl, who jointly command a 13.1% market share today. Notably, the decade-long aggressive expansion by German discounters has long rattled the ‘Big 4’in the UK, which have lost considerable ground during the period. Although we agree that Dave Lewis needs to check the market share erosion (27.4% on 9 September 2018 vs 29.1% in January 2015) – the rampant onslaught from German discounters is the biggest pain-point – this strategy is a bold experiment by Tesco in our opinion. The UK’s largest retailer needs to ensure that this new format does not cannibalise the revenue of its existing stores. The margin of error is also higher as management needs to don multiple hats at the same time – traditional supermarkets vs discount format vs convenience stores vs e-com. The historical failures of other peers also highlights the high implementation risk with this format. Notably, Sainsbury partnered with Netto in 2014 but had to shut these discount stores after incurring losses for two years. In addition to reviving the performance of traditional stores, it is also interesting to see these large retailers treading on different paths as a competitive strategy. Despite an ambitious plan by the CEO, implementation remains the key to success.

  • 19 Sep 18
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