Jack Cohen began selling surplus groceries from a stall in the East End of London in 1919. He left the Royal Flying Corp at the end of the Great War and used his demob money to buy the first day's stock. At the end of the first day Jack Cohen made a profit of £1 on sales of £4.
The first own-brand product sold by Jack was Tesco Tea - before the company was called Tesco. The name comes from the initials of TE Stockwell, who was a partner in the firm of tea suppliers, and CO from Jack's surname.
Jack Cohen opened the first Tesco store in Burnt Oak, Edgware, north London. The store sold dry goods and the first ever branded product, which, unsurprisingly, was Tesco Tea!
Jack Cohen bought a plot of land at Angel Road, Edmonton, north London to build a new headquarters and warehouse. It was the first modern food warehouse in the country and introduced new ideas for stock control.
The 1930s saw Jack Cohen growing the business by buying stores in the expanding London suburbs.
Tesco Stores (Holdings) was floated on the stock exchange with a share price of 25 pence.
Jack Cohen decided to venture into self-service following a research visit to North America. The first of these new stores opened in St Albans, Hertfordshire in 1948 with a mixed reaction from customers at first. The picture shows colleagues delivering goods to the store.
We bought 19 Burnards stores. Between 1955 and 1960 over 500 new stores were purchased.
The first supermarket was opened in Maldon, Essex. The store included a counter service selling cheese, butter and meats weighed by sales assistants.
We started selling household goods and clothing in our stores across the UK. In the same year, we acquired 212 branches of Irwin stores in the north of England.
Green shield stamps were introduced. Stamps collected at the checkout could be exchanged for a range of goods from a catalogue.
The term 'superstore' was first used when we opened our store in Crawley, West Sussex. It was 40,000 sq. ft. in size and sold food and non-food goods. In the same year, we bought the Victor Value chain.
We opened a new head office in Cheshunt, called New Tesco House.
We opened our first petrol stations at major sites across the UK.
In 1977 the Green Shield Stamps were phased out and replaced by a major price-cutting initiative called 'Checkout at Tesco'.
Our founder, Jack Cohen, passed away.
For the first time, we introduced computerised checkouts to our stores.
In an effort to boost sales, Sir Ian MacLaurin launched 'Checkout 82', cutting prices between 3% and 26% on 1,500 food items.
After a successful period as our Managing Director, Sir Ian MacLaurin became Chairman of Tesco.
We launched our own label healthy eating range of products, the first major retailer in the UK to do so.
Dudley Moore starred in a high profile ad campaign highlighting our great range of high quality products.
Tesco staff raised £2 million for Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Computers for Schools was launched. Since 1992 the scheme has raised £185 million worth of equipment for schools around the UK.
The first Tesco Metro store opened in Covent Garden. This new format was around 10,000 sq.ft. in size and offered products tailored to the local market with a strong emphasis on lunchtime snacks.
Tesco Value was launched to offer our customers a wider choice of products at a great price.
The Every Little Helps strap line was launched. The new campaign attracted 1.3 million new customers between 1993 - 1995.
The first two Tesco Express stores opened in London. Within a very short time space 13 more had been opened.
We became the first UK retailer to offer customers a service commitment at the checkouts through the 'One in Front' initiative.
We entered the Hungarian market in 1995 through the acquisition of existing retailer S-Market’s 26 stores in the north-west of Hungary. This was our first international business.
The Dotty 'Every Little Helps' campaign was launched. Different versions of the adverts ran from 1995 - 2004.
The Tesco Clubcard was launched and attracted nearly 5 million customers in the first year. With the introduction of Clubcard, Tesco overtook Sainsbury's in market share.
The UK business started 24 hour trading to help our customers to shop whenever they wanted to.
We entered the Czech Republic in 1996 through the acquisition of K-Mart stores. The purchase included a number of department stores.
We entered the Slovak market in 1996 through the acquisition of seven K-Mart department stores.
We opened our first Extra format store in Pitsea, Essex.
Tesco Personal Finance launched. New saving accounts exceeded all expectations and over 300,000 applications were received.
Tesco veteran Terry Leahy became CEO and introduced a new core purpose for the business.
We entered Poland in 1997 through the acquisition of 31 Savia stores in the south of the country. The business was originally owned by current Tesco Polska CEO Ryszard Tomaszewski.
We entered Ireland in 1997 with the acquisition of Associated British Foods and its subsidiaries.
We entered Thailand operating under the Tesco Lotus brand.
We developed and launched our Finest range, which was aimed at filling the gap in the market for our more affluent customers.
Mobile phones went on sale in our UK stores and Tesco became the largest retailer of pre-paid mobile phones.
Our business in South Korea opened in 1999 in partnership with Samsung, operating under the Homeplus brand. In September Tesco agrees to sell Homeplus.
Tesco.com was launched. Since 2000 Tesco.com has grown to serve over 500,000 customers each week.
We launched the Florence and Fred clothing range.
Since entering Malaysia in 2002 we have opened 47 stores across the country with a combined floor space of almost 4 million sq ft. We operate in the country in partnership with local conglomerate, Sime Darby, who hold a 30% stake in the business.
We bought the UK's second largest convenience store chain, One Stop.
We entered the Turkish market in 2003 through the acquisition of five Kipa stores. On 10 June 2016, we announced the proposed sale of our 95.5% controlling stake in the Kipa business to Migros.
Tesco entered Japan. In August 2011, we announced our decision to sell our business there.
We entered China in 2004 and have built up a network of more than 100 stores across provinces along the Eastern Seaboard.
A new 'Every Little Helps' campaign was launched.
Tesco Direct, our catalogue business, was launched. The catalogue provides an extensive range of electrical appliances, home furnishings, toys and much more.
The first ever Tesco dotcom-only store was opened in Croydon to better serve our customers in the London area.
Green Clubcard points were launched in the UK and in 12 months carrier bag usage fell by 1 billion.
We expanded in Poland with the acquisition of the retailer Leaderprice. The 220 stores purchased were converted into Tesco stores.
In 2007 we entered the US under the name Fresh & Easy, opening stores in southern California, Arizona and Nevada. We operated nearly 200 stores and employed over 5,000 people. In March 2011 we opened our first stores in northern California around San Francisco and the Bay Area. In September 2013, Fresh and Easy was sold to YFE Holdings Inc.
We bought Scottish garden centre chain Dobbies.
We entered India, setting up a wholesale business and an exclusive franchise agreement with the Tata Group who operate Star Bazaar hypermarkets.
We set out our plans to build a full service retail bank after buying out the RBS 50% stake in Tesco Personal Finance. Following the acquisition, Tesco Personal Finance became known as Tesco Bank.
Clubcard was re-launched in the UK with a £150 million investment offering customers the chance to double up their vouchers.
Tesco opened the world's first zero-carbon supermarket in Ramsey, Cambridgeshire.
A new Clubcard app was launched in the UK, which gave customers a new way to swipe their cards in store
Philip Clarke took over as Group CEO in March 2011. Before this, he was Asia, Europe & IT Director. Philip joined the business in 1974 and held a number of roles in store operations, commercial and marketing.
The Alzheimer's Society were our charity of the year in the UK. Colleagues and customers pulled together and raised £7.5 million, exceeding the target of £5 million.
We opened our first zero-carbon store in Asia, in Bang Phra, Thailand as part of our commitment to become a zero-carbon business by 2050.
Tesco launched its first online grocery shopping service in Central Europe in Prague, Czech Republic. The service bought a wide range of fresh and frozen food to our customers as well as a number of non-food items. In October 2012 the online service was also launched in Slovakia.
Tesco launched the new Everyday Value range to replace Tesco Value. The new products focus on three main areas: quality, providing healthier options for our customers and packaging imporvements that help customers identify the products on the shelves.
Tesco opened its first F&F store in Saudi Arabia. The store was the first F&F franchise store. F&F now operates in 12 markets an in three years has become the leading fashion brand in Central Europe.
In June Tesco was awarded Green Retailer of the year at the Annual Grocer Gold Awards. The Judges praised Tesco for its commitment to carbon reduction across all its markets. In October Tesco was also named top UK retailer for climate change by the Carbon Disclosure project based on its inlcusion in the FTSE 350 Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index.
Tesco announced a deal with Aeon in Japan to sell their Japanese business. The agreement saw a two part sale with Aeon, Japan's largest retail group.
Tesco Bank extended its range of services to cover mortgages. Tesco Clubcard holders can gain extra rewards when they take out a mortgage with the offer of Clubcard points following each repayment they make.
Tesco helped its 5000th person out of long term unemployment through the regeneration partnership scheme. Dave Pearson was hired at Highams Park Superstore. The shop created 215 new jobs, of which 74 went to local long term unemployed people.
Tesco announced a strategic review of Fresh & Easy with progress to be communicated in April 2013 at the Full Year Financial Results.
Tesco launches 7 inch Hudl tablet. The tablet aims to open up a world of entertainment and connectivity to all. The Hudl has been designed and built from scratch, tailored around customer needs and ease of use.
We announce a major charity partnership with Diabetes UK. The partnership was launched as the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK reached three million for the first time.
We opened our sixth Grocery Dotcom Centre in Erith. Erith Dotcom employs around 550 people and features the latest technology and systems available to support Tesco’s home grocery delivery business.
Joint Venture in the Southern and Western regions of India with Trent Limited, part of the Tata Group. The venture sees 12 stores retailing a range of merchandise including food and grocery, personal, home and kitchen, fashion and accessories. The stores are operated under the ‘Star Bazaar’ and ‘Star Daily’ banners.
Tesco and Diabetes UK announced that Tesco colleagues, suppliers and customers raised £10 million in the first year of their partnership.
We launched a new 'healthy living' brand. The new brand features a range of healthy foods to help customers lead healthier lifestyles.
Tesco finest*, the UK’s fastest growing premium food brand was relaunched. Over 400 new products were launched and in all, three-quarters of the 1,500 products in the range were either new or improved.
Dave Lewis became Group Chief Executive in September 2014, joining from Unilever. Dave sets out his three turnaround priorities - to regain competitiveness in the core UK business, to protect and strengthen the balance sheet, and to rebuild trust and transparency. At the heart of the plan is our commitment to make Tesco the customer's champion once again.
4.7 million meals were donated by Tesco customers, during the biggest Neighbourhood Food Collection to date. The food will be split between charity partners FareShare and Trussell Trust. The full total of meals donated to people in need since December 2012 is now at 21.5million, weighing in at over 9,000 tons.
We held our largest colleague event to date in the UK, bringing together teams from stores, distribution centres and the office, to focus on how we will deliver Tesco's new purpose - serving Britain's shoppers a little better every day.
Tesco vowed customers will never pay more for their branded shop, with the launch of Brand Guarantee. If a customer’s branded grocery shop is cheaper at Asda, Morrisons or Sainsbury’s, when they buy 10 or more different products, we instantly take the money off the bill at the till.
We launch our Bags of Help scheme, with money raised from the 5p bag charge in England, Scotland and Wales being used to fund projects to create or improve green spaces in local communities. In the first year of the Government bag charge, Tesco customers in England saved over 1.5 billion single-use bags.
Tesco begins offering free fruit for children to eat during shopping trips. Available in all large stores across the UK, the aim is to create healthy eating habits that will stay with kids, as well as to make it easier for children to get the fruit they need.
We make a commitment that by the end of 2017, no food that’s safe for human consumption will go to waste from UK stores. At the Global Summit of the Consumer Goods Forum, CEO Dave Lewis encouraged business to do more to tackle food waste, and called on the wider industry to publish their food waste data.
Tesco unveils Fair For Farmers Guarantee on all its milk. The Fair For Farmers Guarantee explains how every pint of milk sold at Tesco is 100% British and provides customers with information on the fair price Tesco pays to all of its dairy farmers. Tesco sources all of its fresh milk from the 600 British farmers who make up the Tesco Sustainable Dairy Group (TSDG). The Group was founded by Tesco in 2007 to ensure farmers benefit from a price which is above the cost of production.
Tesco becomes first retailer to offer same day grocery delivery nationwide. Tesco launched same day grocery delivery in London and the South East in 2014 and is now extending the service to over 300 stores across the UK, covering over 99% of UK households. This is the biggest reach of any retailer in the UK, stretching from the Shetland Islands in Scotland to Cornwall in south-west England.
Tesco launches ‘Food Love Stories’. A new campaign setting out our food quality credentials and celebrate the passion and care that goes into the meals we all love. ‘Food Love Stories brought to you by Tesco’ builds on the work Tesco has undertaken over the last two years to improve every aspect of the shopping trip for customers.
Tesco Bank celebrates 20 years of serving Tesco shoppers. Tesco Bank has established a full range of retail banking products and has seen strong growth in traditional banking markets, including current accounts and mortgages, as well as innovating in the payments sector.
Tesco completes merger with wholesaler Booker Group. The two companies bring together retail and wholesale expertise to create the UK’s leading food business. The merger opens-up opportunities for our businesses wherever food is prepared and eaten – ‘in home’ or ‘out of home’ – and will benefit our customers, suppliers, colleagues and shareholders.