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The Economist writes that “if an anthropologist wanted to know what Britain was like, he would do well to take his notebook to Tesco. That's partly because it sells a third of Britain's groceries. But it is also because Tesco's customers are made up of the wealthy, middling and poor in just the same proportions as shoppers in the country as a whole. Tesco has become big by being like Britain.”

It wasn’t always that way – once, Tesco was a company that specialized in a “stack it high, sell it cheap” approach to merchandising. But, the Economist writes, “as Britons became more middle-class, Tesco followed them upmarket. And it has made better use than its rivals of technology to find out exactly what they like.”

At the same time, “Tesco is changing tastes and habits. Convenience stores of the sort that Tesco has been building rapidly are leading to smaller, more frequent shopping trips and increased sales of instantly gratifying things such as ready meals.”
KC's View:
The impressive thing to us about Tesco has been its ability and willingness to change.

Years ago, we had the opportunity to interview the then chairman, Sir Ian MacLaurin, who stressed the company’s relentless discipline and dedication to centralized procurement, merchandising and marketing. He disparaged the theatrics of some retailing experiences, believing that there was no room for such approaches at Tesco.

Some time later, we interviewed MacLaurin’s successor, Sir Terry Leahy – and did so at a store that had more than its share of theatricality. We mentioned the change, and Leahy laughed – the stores changed, he said, because the customer changed. It was a simple as that.

Those are conversations that we’ll never forget because they seemed the very essence of smart retailing. And it doesn’t surprise us that Tesco has never stopped growing because it has never stopped learning, never stopped changing.