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Tesco Celebrates 100 Years - Will It Survive Another Century?

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In 2019, the UK’s number one retailer, Tesco, celebrates “100 years of providing great value”.

This is the strapline of a new major advertising campaign, which has just been launched by Tesco to communicate the centenary to their customers. No doubt we all will become familiar with their campaign in coming weeks:

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But will the grocery retail giant survive another 100 years?

Today’s intensive commercial world makes it harder than ever to attain and retain a market-leading position, a position which Tesco has held in the UK for the past 20 years or so. Supply Chain prowess has provided the backbone for this success, coupled with the ability to quickly overcome and learn from problems.

However, competitive pressure has intensified further. Key drivers include globalisation (Tesco have had to compete with one of the world’s biggest companies, Walmart), and the rise of the internet (customers can quickly compare prices and switch allegiance if greater value is found elsewhere). Today’s customers have become much more knowledgeable and aware of the unprecedented level of choice presented to them.

In addition, the way customers shop for food has changed considerably. There has been a rise in popularity of more convenient local grocery shops, the emergence of online food shopping, and an increase in eating away from home. What’s more, the rise of discount food shops (aka ‘Hard Discounters’) have taken an increasing share of the market.

As the market leader, Tesco has much to fear. Yet under the remarkable leadership of CEO Dave Lewis (who took over in 2014), the retailer remains the company to beat, providing an example which retailers around the globe should closely examine. 

Tesco's supply chain capabilities, closely aligned to their business model and strategy, suggest that the retail giant will continue to be a formidable competitor for many years to come. 

We have been following and analyzing Tesco’s continued success over the decades, and have produced an updated edition of our award-winning book, The Lean Supply Chain: Managing the Challenge at Tesco. Focusing on how Tesco has designed and developed their supply chain capabilities over the years, we bring together case studies and thought leadership to provide valuable lessons for leaders and supply chain managers of all companies.