Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tesco World: Tesco plc. News Roundup

Fresh & Easy's (New Store Opening) 'Pause'

Today's newspapers in the United Kingdom are all reporting on Tesco Fresh & Easy (USA's)Neighborhood Market's three month 'pause' in opening new grocery stores as we reported here yesterday. The British papers don't have as much information in their reports today as we had yesterday in ours...However, you might want to read what they're saying about the 'Pause.'

Read what today's edition of the UK's Guardian has to say on the Fresh & Easy 'Pause' here. The Daily Telegraph also has a piece which you can read here. Read what the Irish Examiner says here, and read the report from the Scotsman newspaper here.

To Russia With Love: Is Russia Next on Tesco's Agenda?

The London Times is reporting that Tesco plc. is poised to continue its international retailing march by opening up its first stores in Russia, according to its sources who told the publication and Bloomberg News that Tesco representatives have met with at least three property agents in its search for possible store locations in Russia. Read the report here.

Tesco Getting More 'Local' in the UK

Representatives of the food and agriculture sector in the Midlands UK community of Melton were recently successful in pressing Tesco, the UK's largest retailer with a 33% share of the grocery sales market, to agree to buy more locally-produced food products from the area's farmers and food and grocery purveyors, according to a report in the local Melton Times.

Melton is a "rural capital" of food (and beverages like micro-brewed beer) in the region. It's farmers and food suppliers have long been questioning why Tesco wouldn't buy more of the local region's foods to sell in its areas stores. Last week Tesco revealed plans to put more of the local food (and beverage) products on its store shelves. Are you listening Fresh & Easy USA?

Tesco also recently agreed with farm groups and others throughout the UK to source more "local" food products, including fresh produce, fresh meats, dairy and other goods, for the retailer's stores. Read more about these local initiatives here. Still not listening Fresh & Easy USA?

More Tesco in the UK: The is reporting a UK seaside resort is set to lose its only nursery, along with hundreds of jobs, because Tesco bought the town's Lyme Bay Holiday Village resort in Seaton, Devon and plans to close it in January, 2009 to make way for a Tesco supermarket. Read the piece here. Spare the rare bird...please: Tesco recently hired a marksman to shoot a gaggle of birds inside a Tesco Extra store in the UK town of Greenock, according to a report here in the Greenock Telegraph. However, a woman who lives in the neighborhood where the store is located, has begged store officials to spare one of the birds, a rare"leucistic" sparrow, which she spotted on the store's grounds. Read more here.

Additional Tesco UK News

The case of the missing trout: Tesco plc. has launched an "urgent investigation" into a Scottish fish supplier after 4,000 farmed trout escaped into one of Scotland's most famous salmon rivers, according to a report in the Scotsman newspaper. Read the story here. Tesco is considering dropping the fish supplier in light of the "fishy" circumstances surrounding the incident.

Tesco wind turbines get approval: As part of its green retail initiative in the UK, Tesco is looking at renewable wind energy to provide part of the energy to power its supermarkets and other retail stores in the UK.

A major part of that renewable energy strategy involves putting wind turbines right in the parking lots of its stores. Of course, such actions require permits and approvals from town councils and the like. One such town council, in the city of York, just gave the retailer the go ahead to install two tall wind turbines in the parking lot of one of its stores in the city. Read all about the development here

Category Compitition: 7-Eleven to Rollout Prepared Foods Line in May

Tesco's U.S. Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market chain, which currently has 59 stores open in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada, is basing much of its merchandising philosophy (and potential success or failure) on consumers' beating a path to its stores for the retailer's extensive selection of fresh, prepared foods, ranging from basic sandwiches and entrees like macaroni and cheese, to more upscale ethnic foods offerings.

Convenience store giant 7-11, which has a store on nearly every corner in the U.S., is getting into the prepared foods business in its stores in a big way beginning in May. The C-store chain is introducing an extensive line of ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat prepared foods it's calling its Signature 7 store brands line.

Among the offerings in the Signature 7 line include: 31 snacks, including cookies, chips, trail mix and candies; a line of ready-to-heat upscale Asian food products called "Asian Rollers," which include varieties like orange chicken and szechuan beef; a line of sandwiches such as Cuban-style ham geared to Hispanics (or those who love Hispanic foods); and a line of fresh fruit pastries flavored with such Latin and island-inspired flavors as guava fruit and pineapple.

The C-store chain also is introducing a line of upscale, artisan sandwiches to its stores on May 5. The gourmet-quality sandwiches will sell for $3.99 each, compared to the same quality sandwich which CEO Joe Pinto tells us generally sells elsewhere for seven bucks each. Interesting.

Pinto says the new fresh, prepared foods offerings will be high quality but low-price. They will be produced at a central commissary, then delivered daily to the stores. The first region in the U.S. to get the new Signature 7 line of prepared foods will be Florida. If all goes well, the chain expects to then rollout the higher-quality but value-priced prepared foods products to other parts of the U.S.

If the across the category Signature 7 fresh, prepared foods items are as good tasting as Pinto says they are, at the prices they're going to sell for, 7-Eleven could become not only an even bigger retailer of prepared foods than it currently is, but also a player in higher-quality fresh foods retailing just by the mere virtue of all the stores it operates in the U.S.

Tesco to Build Compact, Mini Malls in Thailand

Tesco plc's Tesco-Lotus retail operation in Thailand recently said it would build compact, community mini malls in that country as a way to jump-start and increase the retailer's market share in the nation.

The first mall, a prototype, just opened less than a month ago in Nonthaburi, Thailand.

Tesco-Lotus tells us it will build three different types of community, mini malls, based on an area's demographics, spending power and lifestyle orientations. Each type of mall even has its own name. Those names are: The Park, The Garden and The Oasis.

The community malls are targeted to suburban neighborhoods with populations of between 30,000-50,000 residents. Suburbs are a fairly new but fast-growing phenomenon in Thailand. Tesco-Lotus wants to "own" the mall category in these fast-growing suburbs, which tend to have far more affluent residents than the country's urban centers.

We aren't aware of a retail chain doing anything similar to this concept which Tesco-Lotus is introducing in Thailand. It should prove to be an interesting development, especially since a single retail chain is building the entire mall. The second Tesco-Lotus community mall is scheduled to open in the next few months in Soi Pravit Lae Pern, according to a Tesco-Lotus spokesperson.

End-Piece: Waitrose's 'Chubby Grocer' Loves to 'Dig' His Rivals in Blog

Grocery retailing in the United Kingdom is overall much more fun than it is in the United States, or most elsewhere in the world for that matter. Just ask Mark Price, the CEO (official title is Managing Director) of UK supermarket chain Waitrose, which is among other things a bit of a rival of Tesco in the UK, although its much smaller and more high-end customer focused.

Price, who calls himself the "chubby grocer" because of his ample girth, writes a blog on the Waitrose website. In his blog, the "chubby-grocer-in-chief" chronicles his efforts to reduce his girth, as well as using the platform to write about whatever suits him, which often means making friendly digs at his rival UK supermarket CEO's, including Tesco plc. CEO Sir Terry Leahy.

The food and grocery industry publication Natural~Specialty Foods Memo has two pieces from last week about "chubby grocer" Price and his blog. We suggest you have a read here.

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