We use cookies to improve your experience. By using our site you are accepting our cookie policy. 
Read our privacy policy to learn more.

The Lean Supply Chain

The Lean Supply Chain

Managing the Challenge at Tesco

Robert Mason, Barry Evans

From £33.32

Understand how Tesco built a world-leading supply chain that delivers what customers want effectively and efficiently.

Buy product
Buy now

About the book

The Lean Supply Chain: Managing the Challenge at Tesco explores how UK multinational grocery and general merchandise retailer Tesco addresses the challenge of managing its supply chains. The book examines how Tesco has used lean thinking, loyalty and simplicity to achieve its dominant position. It shows how Tesco's senior leadership made a simple but game-changing decision to focus the business on its customers rather than the conventional approach of 'competing with our competitors' and asks whether the approach to managing the supply chain needs to be adapted to deal with current challenges that Tesco faces.

The authors look at how the retailer developed and maintains one of the most effective supply chains in the world. The Lean Supply Chain demonstrates Tesco's most successful strategies through real life examples, drawing upon the authors' deep knowledge of how Tesco has developed and succeeded from both an academic and practitioner perspective. It includes an assessment of how Tesco is dealing with current challenges and market changes, including its successful rollout of online shopping and convenience stores as well as how it is attempting to maintain its position as the UK's largest retailer.

Table Of Contents

    • Chapter - 01: Introduction;
    • Chapter - 02: Tesco Past and Present;
    • Chapter - 03: Tesco and Strategy: Managing The What, Why and How!;
    • Chapter - 04: Customer Insight: To Drive The Tesco Supply Chain;
    • Chapter - 05: Lean and The Tesco Supply Chain: ‘Mastering The Supply Chain’;
    • Chapter - 06: Tesco and Continuous Improvement: Debunking Seven Myths of Conventional Business Thinking;
    • Chapter - 07: Current Challenges: Aligning Corporate and Supply Chain Strategies to a Changing Macro Environment;
    • Chapter - 08: Conclusions


When considering a major undertaking such as building a Lean supply chain, it doesn't hurt to have a little guidance from a major global player. This book debunks many myths, and provides solid practical examples and advice for supply chain professionals looking to cut waste from their enterprises.
Inbound Logistics

For many years Tesco has been regarded as a world-class retailer. In this insightful book the authors detail the way in which Tesco have utilized best-in-class practices to create a highly effective and efficient supply chain. It's timely. The authors look in detail at how Tesco have been able to build a world-class supply chain. It should appeal to a wide audience - not just those interested in retail.
Martin Christopher, Emeritus Professor of Marketing and Logistics, Cranfield School of Management

This book is a superlative in-depth case study of how Lean concepts, together with concepts from marketing, innovation and strategy, have combined to give Tesco an edge in grocery retailing. The supply chain and improvement chapters would be interesting and valuable to anyone in large-scale retailing. In particular the sections contrasting conventional wisdom with Tesco's counter-intuitive answers are illustrative of the effectiveness of Lean thinking outside manufacturing. Following Tesco's history from early days to international giant, and their learnings along the route - what went right and wrong - provides a classic longitudinal study showing the importance of sustained leadership and purpose.
John Bicheno, founder of the MSc Lean post-graduate degree at LERC

Most managers readily subscribe to the need to manage one's supply chain. Few firms make the actual leap of moving from traditional purchasing and logistics functions to developing and implementing a supply chain strategy. Barry Evans and Robert Mason provide a powerful narrative that illustrates the effort that this entails, as well as the benefits that can be reaped from taking Lean into a supply chain context.
Professor Matthias Holweg, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

Much has been written about the Tesco supply chain and ingredients for its success - not least of all Lean thinking. What isn't so well recognized is that this journey began, and was very advanced, several years before the perceived introduction of Lean principles in 1995 by a homegrown talented team of people drawn from all supply chain functions. It was this team that created the bedrock for much of what is in place some 20 years later. What the Lean process did help with is creating a framework to extend this methodology to other functions outside the Tesco internal supply chain. This book shows that the principles of Lean do work - but only when they are matched with people who can make the difference. If there is one thing you will learn from this book and the Tesco experience it is that great people make a great company.
Barry Knichel, former Supply Chain Development Director, Tesco

Any book that analyses supply chain strategies followed by leading retailers is bound to be successful. This book by Evans and Mason examines Tesco's supply chain strategies in a clear and succinct manner. It will be excellent reading for academics, students, retail managers and supply chain practitioners.
Professor Michael Bourlakis, Chair in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and Head of Supply Chain Research Centre, Cranfield University

The book is a detailed case study on Tesco and is clearly important from a retail perspective. In the past few years there have been similar books on big branded companies such as Nokia, Starbucks, Apple, Google, etc. This book sits within this category. The bulk of the book discusses the history and evolution of Tesco and two chapters discuss the supply chain and the retail environment. The valuable contribution is within the Retail management environment and the future of retail. In summary the book's strengths are details and a good analysis of the evolution of Tesco, a good description of the strategies that Tesco has employed over the years, and an analysis of the supply chain and the models. The book will appeal to a business audience - supply chain mangers, retail managers, etc. It will also appeal to academia as it can be used on a variety of business courses.
Professor Samir Dani , Head of Logistics, Operations and Hospitality Management, University of Huddersfield

Robert and Barry provide a well-researched and fascinating insight into the Lean philosophy that underpinned the strategies of Tesco in the era of Leahy and Clarke. Their work brings alive how the rigorous pursuit of Lean principles enabled the transition of an ordinary UK supermarket chain into a customer-centric contrarian global winner.
Steve Spall, Former Supply Chain and Distribution Development Director, Tesco UK

Barry Evans and Robert Mason have written an essential guide not only to Tesco's development of their supply chain but also to the imaginative developments which took place within and beyond the UK's supply chains over the last five decades. As the director responsible for introducing modern supply chain management into Rowntree and Nestlé, I worked closely with Tesco management on greatly improving service both to them and to their customers, our consumers. While the UK food business remains highly competitive, all supply chain participants continue to agree to work together to benefit all through jointly tackling key supply chain issues, and also by sharing point-of-sale data immediately in order to react well to consumer purchases. The main UK manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers cooperatively developed world class Electronic Data Interchange of orders, invoices, product and location master data so that accurate data would be actioned without delay or error. Barry and Robert very well illustrate that supply chain managers cooperate so that supply chains can be truly competitive, to the great benefit of the consumer as well as of the businesses.
Professor Tom McGuffog MBE FCILT FCIPS

To study Tesco with such intimacy provides a fascinating insight into the logic that underpins the Tesco model and its many evolutions that have provided a sequence of change as the organization has learned new ways to compete. The authors provide a clarity and insight, over time, of how the forces of business and decisions have shaped the prosperity of this British household name. The two authors have enjoyed a remarkably privileged position and have maintained the study for many years which makes for a fantastic read and the most insightful understanding of this British mega-organization. The book is more than a book about a retailer though - it is a book on business, of challenge and dynamic markets, and how Tesco has made sense of its environment, shaped some of the market by defying tradition and convention, and how it has reacted to the turbulence of a truly global sector. There is much to learn from this account and many lessons that should inspire managers in occupations and sectors that are far beyond retailing. It is a blend of the thought-provoking and also of the practical aspects of running a modern business.
Nick Rich, Professor of Socio-Technical Systems (Operations Management), Swansea University

Highly interesting and informative analysis of the initiatives Tesco developed to establish a world-class retail supply chain. The step-by-step explanation of the approach used is essential reading for practitioners and students of supply chain management. Well done.
Dr James Aitken, Head of Department for Business Transformation, University of Surrey

This book provides an in-depth understanding of the constantly changing field of Lean supply chains and the approach that Tesco has taken in developing theirs into a world-class operation. It is an essential read for anyone interested in supply chain management as it provides great insight as to how to unlock its true value as a core element of a retailers competitive advantage.
Monica Hope, Teaching Fellow, Retail and Marketing, University of Surrey

When I joined the Lean Enterprise Research Centre in 1997 Tesco was one of the supply chain development network research partners leading the challenge on constraints in supply chain management. Subsequently Tesco have consistently worked with Cardiff University developing innovative and creative new thinking to benefit their business, consumers and staff. In 1997 Tesco were lagging in the UK grocery sector. Shoppers would not have expected to buy clothes or other household goods under a single roof or have timed deliveries. Most would have remembered Green Shield stamps if asked about loyalty and discount schemes. In the intervening period the Tesco story has been that of domination balancing the value for customers, staff and the business. While recent performance issues have caused shock these do not diminish the breakthroughs achieved for the retail sector. This book provides transferable insights in Lean supply chain management, strategy and change for academics, students and practitioners alike. The Lean Supply Chain reflects the need for all supply chains to understand customer value, challenge the way things have always been done and break through to higher levels of performance. This is a very worthwhile read.
Dr Ann Esain, former researcher with Lean Enterprise Research Centre, Cardiff

This book is fascinating - for its timing as much as the overview it provides into one of the world's most prominent retailers. The book's timing is impressive (and critical) given the turbulent few years Tesco has had. There is clear admiration for Tesco on the part of the authors, resulting in a book that is more of a calm investigation of a complex supply chain's strengths and weaknesses than a post-crisis exposé. The Lean Supply Chain somehow manages to offer lessons and best practices that are relevant across industries and functions while telling the Tesco supply chain story sympathetically and in-depth.
Kelly Barner, Buyers Meeting Point

Book Details

  • EAN: 9780749472078
  • Edition: 1
  • Published: 3rd September 2015
  • Paperback
  • Format: 233x157
  • 312 pages

About the Author

Barry Evans' early career involved a variety of roles in Logistics/Distribution with Watney Mann, Rank Hovis McDougall and Royal Mail. This was followed by roles in Tesco plc including Lean Process Manager in Tesco Supply Chain Development. He joined the Lean Enterprise Research Centre at Cardiff Business School as a Senior Research Associate.

Robert Mason is a senior lecturer in Logistics and Operations Management section (LOM) at Cardiff Business School and has led many business research projects with Tesco as a partner. He has also held a variety of roles with M&S.

Robert Mason

Barry Evans

Related blog posts