Campaigning to curb supermarket power



Tesco entered China in 2004, operating in partnership with supplier Ting Hsing, and trading as Hymall (see BBC coverage). It has expanded quickly and expects continued rapid growth, announcing in December 2006 in increase in its share of Hymall from 50% to 90% and the development of own-brand products in China (read more). As of April 2012, Tesco has 124 stores in China.

China is a major market for international retailers, with a rapidly changing economy and potential market of 1.3 billion people (see a BBC profile). The market leader is Chinese chain Hualian, Carrefour has 70 hypermarkets and WalMart intends to enter China (see a Guardian article). In January 2006 Sir Terry Leahy told The Observer that China was Tesco’s major focus for expansion. Its average store size is a massive 77,000 sq ft, significantly more than in any other country except Malaysia, and around six times the UK average. Like its rivals, Tesco is pushing China’s emerging grocery retail market towards the large-format, car-based hypermarket model. Tesco currently plans to open a further 16 stores in China.

Tesco’s Chinese operations rely on a localised format (see a Guardian article), and it has been criticised for selling live frogs, fish, and turtles in store (see the Tescopoly page on animal welfare). In November 2011, workers blockaded a Tesco store in a dispute over wages and redundancies.

1 April 2013
Tesco considers roll out of online grocery
Tesco is considering plans to roll out an online grocery business across 50 Chinese cities if a trial in Shanghai later in 2013 is successful.
21 May 2013
Tesco seeks Chinese partner
Tesco is reportedly seeking a local partner in China, describing the nation as a strategically important market.
12 August 2013
Tesco to withdraw from China
Tesco is in talks with China Resources Enterprise about merging both companys' markets and stores. If the deal goes through, Tesco is going to bring its nine-year solo venture in China to an end at a cost of up to $2.3 billion making it the grocer's latest aggressive international expansion to unravel. The story comes courtesy from Reuters.
29 May 2014
Tesco finalises deal to create largest food retailer in China
Tesco has finalised a deal with the state-run China Resources Enterprise (CRE) to create the largest food retailer in China. The joint venture will combine Tesco's 131 outlets in the country with CRE's almost 3,000 stores, called Vanguard.