10 facts about Tesco

Posted on April 22, 2011 by | 16 Comments

What with “Tesco Riots” taking place last night in Bristol’s Stokes Croft area, I thought I’d write some things about Tesco. These are mostly from Tescopoly

1) 1 in every 7 pounds spent in the UK in 2007 was spent in Tesco

2) Tesco use their monopoly power to squeeze farmers hard. A Competition Commission investigation revealed that Tesco consistently pay suppliers nearly 4% below the average price paid by other retailers. There isn’t much evidence they pass these savings to consumers – they just pocket the profits.

3) Research by ActionAid found workers in Costa Rica producing bananas for export to all major UK supermarkets earning 33p an hour.  This wage is so low that they cannot afford to take an hour off when dangerous pesticides are being sprayed on the crops.

4) Unite the Union have a long running campaign against Tesco over the terrible treatment of workers in their meat supply chain.

5) The New Economics Foundation have shown that fresh fruit and veg is, on average, 30% cheaper at a street market than it is in a supermarket. However, through short term aggressive pricing when they first move into an area, Tesco often shuts down these markets, reducing access to fresh fruit and veg for the poorest.

6) Tesco offer their best deals in out of town shopping centres rather than their city centre stores. This not only encourages driving, but also excludes those without cars – mostly, poorer people.

7) In the 5 years to 2002, an average of 50 local food shops were lost in the UK every week, largely due to the Tesco takeover.

8 ) Tesco is Europe’s biggest property company. In 2007 they were sitting on property assets worth £28bn.

9) Tesco are not a net creator of jobs. Because they aggressively force local shops out of business, and then provide the minimal possible service to customers, on average, every time a large supermarket opens, 276 jobs are lost.

10) Between 2003 and 2007 the Labour Party accepted donations of £54,194 from Tesco.

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16 Responses to “10 facts about Tesco”

  1. TIm HardyNo Gravatar
    April 22nd, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

    Another key fact about Tesco is that they have a seat at the table in coalitions plans to change the law and turn Britain into world’s laxest corporate tax regime for big business:


  2. Nils BorayNo Gravatar
    April 23rd, 2011 @ 4:19 pm

    Tesco are not my favourite business by any means but this is all a bit over the top – they are as far as I am aware, the UK’s second largest employer – and the largest private employer.

    It’s often difficult to evaluate the effect they have on small town communities – I live in Leighton Buzzard which has a large Tesco at one end of Town, and a smallish Morrisons at the other – and a medium sized Waitrose bang in the middle. I’d say that the Tesco store undoubtedly brings people into Town who would not otherwise come – the Town shops were dead on their feet when I moved here in 1996 – they are certainly not now.

    Their pricing is identical to larger stores out of Town – near Milton Keynes – and is generally ahead of Morrisons on most things and Waitrose on just about everything. The nearby Asda at Milton Keynes (about 6 miles) is cheaper and provides good competitiion.

    The Tesco Metro stores – of which there are two in residential parts of the Town, replaced existing independent shops which were over priced and un-reliable – frequently stocking an odd range of products – and complaints about items past sell by dates were common – not so anymore – though the Tesco Metro prices are often higher than in the main stores – still not as expensive as in the shops they’ve replaced.

    Growing up in the North of England I remember there being uproar when local shops started to be taken over by Asian families – most of whom made a radically better job than the antiquated business practices of the shopkeepers they replaced – many of them have now sold their business to larger companies – many to Tesco – who again offer improvements that they could not hope to.

    Don’t get me wrong – I do worry about the domination of the market by very few players. They hold it within their power for instance to completely eliminate any particular product on a whim. If you were the manufacturer of say a particular brand of pickle, then Tesco and Asda between them can merely decide whether your product fails or succeeds – it’s too much power.

    It doesn’t go anywhere near justifying lighting fires in the street and smashing Tesco stores up though.

  3. SebNo Gravatar
    April 24th, 2011 @ 12:38 pm


    In what way does a giant corporation forcing itself into a community against the will of a considerable majority and despite years of protest not justify this anger and perhaps in this context breaking a few windows?

    Surely the first steps of forcefully changing a unique and diverse community into an identikit street indistinguishable from all the other Tescohoods is a very good reason to resist.

  4. Wibble WibbleNo Gravatar
    April 24th, 2011 @ 3:57 pm

    You should see my local Tesco – it’s fuckin’ packed every day. Democracy in action as it were. The single grocers in the town ten years ago was horrendous, and as mentioned above the whole place was dying on its arse.

    I can’t afford to shop in nice green organic places – they’re for the comfortably off and don’t pretend otherwise. I know, I’ve been in plenty.

    There’s lots to protest about. Tesco isn’t a pressing one at the moment

  5. SebNo Gravatar
    April 24th, 2011 @ 4:16 pm

    @Wibble Wibble,

    Maybe you missed the bit about Tesco charging 30% more for fruit and veg? What has that got to do with organics? Maybe you missed the bit about the local community almost unanimously rejecting Tesco’s plans? Democracy in action?

  6. Wibble WibbleNo Gravatar
    April 24th, 2011 @ 10:44 pm


    I don’t ‘like’ Tesco. I wish life were all independent stores, and everyone had a great standard of living etc.

    Unfortunately, people are people, and if they didn’t support a local Tesco it would fail. My experience of my local Tesco tells a very different story – it is packed, people use it all the time and have a much wider choice of foods than they had before. Bringing pesto and sun-dried tomatoes to the great unwashed if you like. This just wasn’t the case before the Tesco.

    Regarding reducing access to fruit and veg for the poorest: So what are the independent and sky-high priced ‘green’ shops doing? I don’t see many of our less well-off citizens in those (actually, there don’t seem to be any of them in there, just students with rich parents or the middle classes), yet I do in my local Tescos. They’re often buying things like the 33 organic clementines I got for 30p last night, the large bag of curly kale for 10p or the DOC Chianti for £4. Yeah, I hate capitalists as much as you, probably more as I’ve known them much longer, and I hate my local Tesco full of chavs buying cases of lager etc, but too many of my fellow humans seem to have a different opinion. Hell, most of them don’t even WANT the reduced fruit and veg at 10p a go – it’s always overlooked. But they can get a cheap chicken or four burgers etc and feed the family cheaply.

    You might not like it but Britain does – and that’s your problem, not me. I largely agree with you.

  7. Stephen RoundNo Gravatar
    May 4th, 2011 @ 1:49 am

    The problem with trading with big companmies is that the money spent doesn’t continue to circulate in the local economy – it speeds right back to Airstrip 1. Our true wealth depends upon our money circulationg within the bounds of our own locale as long as is possible so a bargain at Tesco or any other London owned company is lost forever. London is our competitor not our representative and the sooner we recognise that the better of we will become!

    Only Citys have Empires and Empires only recognise colonies why continue to recognise London as our capital it has been ripping us off for centuries!

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    January 12th, 2012 @ 11:16 pm

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