retail news in context, analysis with attitude

In the UK, the Guardian reports that Tesco has opened its new Jack’s format, which is designed to blunt the growth and market share absorption of discounters Aldi and Lidl.

The story says that Tesco CEO Dave Lewis has pledged that Jack’s will be the “cheapest in town.” While traditional Tesco stores have some 25,000 SKUs, Jack’s is said to have a limited assortment of just 2,600, and about two-thirds of the selection is private label.

And, in what may be a bow to Brexit-era attitudes in the UK, some 80 percent of the food sold at Jack’s is from the UK, the Guardian writes.

The story notes that “at 10am on Thursday, the formal opening time, 150 people were waiting to enter the new supermarket in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire,” even though it was rainy and windy. ““There’s clearly not much to do on a rainy day in Chatteris,” one customer told the paper.

The Guardian goes on to note that “prices of Jack’s products almost exactly mirrored those in the nearby Aldi store,” and that “several shoppers said it reminded them of shopping 20 or 30 years ago. ‘I’m not sure how I feel about the packaging. It looks like it has come out of the 1950s. It looks a bit out of date to me,’ said one woman.”

Reuters writes that “Jack’s is named after Jack Cohen, who in 1919 founded the business that became Tesco, and is a significant move by Lewis, who has rebuilt Tesco after a 2014 accounting scandal capped a dramatic downturn in trading.”

Tesco is expected to open between 10 and 15 Jack’s over the next six months, with Lewis saying that more could be opened - or converted from existing Tesco stores - if the format proves to be a hit with shoppers.
KC's View:
Not being there, it is hard for me to be judgmental about this one way or the other. It is interesting that Tesco is looking to its “stack it high, price it cheap” roots for a little modern juice. Though, to be honest, “it looks like it has come out of the 1950s” doesn’t sound like it is necessarily a compliment. There’s retro, and there’s just old-looking.