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Tesco

In: Business and Management

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Z01_JOHN2020_09_SE_EM18.QXD

10/13/10

9:09

Page 658

CASE STUDY

Tesco: from domestic operator to multinational giant
Michelle Lowe and Neil Wrigley

This case considers the emergence of Tesco plc as one of the world’s leading multinational retailers. In a remarkable 10-year period, Tesco has transformed itself from a purely domestic operator to a multinational giant – with subsidiaries in Europe, Asia and North America – and in 2009 had 64 per cent of its operating space outside the UK. Examining market entry into Asia in more detail, the case compares ‘success’ in Thailand and South Korea with ‘failure’ in Taiwan. It also considers ‘a high risk gamble’ in Tesco’s entry into the US market, long considered to be a graveyard of overambitious expansion by UK retailers.
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Introduction
In April 2009, Tesco, the UK’s largest retailer and private sector employer of labour, announced annual sales for 2008/09 of almost £60 billion (x66bn or $90.2bn) together with profits of £3 billion (x3.3bn or $4.5bn). After a dramatic decade-long transformation from purely domestic operator to multinational giant, Tesco now had a remarkable 64 per Source: Getty Images. cent of its operating space outside the UK, was developing increasingly strong businesses across 11 Asian and European markets, had a rapidly expanding ‘start-up’ subsidiary operating in the western USA, and had announced its entry into the Indian market. Moreover, as signalled in both the title of its Annual Report (Value Travels) and the prominence given in that report to its international profile, the firm was publicly expressing its confidence that it had mastered the art of international expansion, so long a weakness of UK retailing. Tesco’s emergence as the world’s third largest retailer, operating 2025 stores and employing 183,600 staff outside the UK by 2008/09, represents one of the most...

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