This is a Market Brief providing information about the leading UK supermarket chains.
THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY
USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT
GAIN Report Number:
UK Supermarket Chain Profiles
This is a Market Brief providing information about the leading UK supermarket chains: Tesco,
Asda/Wal-Mart, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, The Cooperative, Waitrose, Marks and Spencer's, Whole
Foods Market, Aldi and Lidl. It gives an overview of the trading styles, and target customers of each
retailer, as well as contact details for their head office.
This report is intended to supplement the report entitled “UK Retail Market Brief”. If you would like a
copy of this report please email email@example.com
UK Supermarket Chain Profiles
Tesco Stores Ltd
Tesco House, Delamere Road
Cheshunt, Hertfordshire EN8 9SL
Tel: +44 1992 632 222
Consumer website: www.tesco.com
Corporate website: www.tescoplc.com
Tesco is the number one supermarket in the UK and number three globally with stores in other
European countries, including the Czech and Slovak Republics, Hungary, Poland, and the Republic of
Ireland. Tesco also trades in Turkey, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, China, and Thailand. In
2007, Tesco opened stores in the United States under the name Fresh & Easy.
Tesco has been a market leader in the UK grocery sector for the last 25 years. It introduced the first
loyalty card in the UK, which has become a highly efficient and targeted marketing system and now has
over 16 million active members. Tesco was also the first UK supermarket to develop an on-line
shopping service and is at present the most successful.
Tesco’s progress in the UK in the last five years has been noteworthy. Tesco’s sales were ₤42.8 billion
($68.5 billion) in 2011. They employ 300,373 people in the UK.
Tesco has seven different store formats, each tailored to the customer’s needs in a particular locality.
Type of Store Number of Stores
Home Plus 13
Total Tesco Stores 2,975
As of April 2012
Express Stores are up to 3,000 square feet and offer customers great value, quality and fresh food close
to where they live or work. The first express store was opened in 1994, and there are now over 1,400
outlets selling a range of up to 7,000 lines, including fresh produce, wines and spirits, and in-store
Metro Stores are between 7,000 and 15,000 square feet. The first Metro store was opened in 1992
bringing the convenience of Tesco to town and city center locations. Tesco Metros cater to busy
customers, offering a tailored range of food lines, including ready-to-eat meals and sandwiches.
Superstores are between 20,000 and 50,000 square feet. Tesco began opening Superstores in the
1970’s. During the 1980’s and 1990’s, Tesco built a national network to which it is adding more stores
every year. These stores respond rapidly to changing consumer needs. In recent years, Tesco has
introduced a number of non-food ranges, such as electronics and books, into Superstores.
Extra stores are usually above 60,000 square feet in size. Since the opening of the first Extra store in
1997, the “one stop” destination store format has proved extremely popular. Extra stores offer the
widest range of food and non-food lines, from electrical items to homewares, clothing, health and
beauty and seasonal items.
Following positive consumer response to non-food offerings, Tesco’s newest type of store format is
Home Plus, where stores are between 35,000 and 50,000 square feet and are dedicated to non food.
Tesco has opened 13 of these stores on a trial basis. If these are successful, more non-food stores will
open throughout the UK.
In June 2007, Tesco purchased 31 Dobbie’s Garden Centers.
Tesco’s main consumers are middle income. Tesco’s range of food features a strong private label
element. In addition to their general Tesco branded range, there are two other main ranges – Tesco
Value that features basic goods at highly competitive prices and Tesco Finest, pitched at the quality end
of the spectrum, with a strong emphasis on ingredients.
Tesco currently has 1,600 product lines across both the Tesco Value and Tesco Finest ranges. A typical
Tesco Superstore will stock around 40,000 product lines, of which 25,000 are food and beverages.
Tesco has positioned itself to lower prices and a competitive agenda. Tesco, Asda, and more recently
Sainsbury’s are constantly competing on price. Tesco has received considerable criticism in the press
for reportedly placing pressure on suppliers to achieve its price agenda.
Tesco’s multi-format stores bolster success. They allow customers to access the Tesco ‘brand’ at many
Asda Stores Ltd.
Asda House, Southbank
Great Wilson Street
Leeds, West Yorkshire LS11 5AD
Tel: +44 113 243 5435
Asda is the UK’s number two supermarket chain with 17.3 percent market share. Wal-Mart bought
Asda in July 1999. However, Asda has retained a very British feel in-store and a distinct identity
separate from its parent company.
Asda’s strap-line is ‘Every day low price’. This motto, together with Wal-Mart’s global buying power,
has contributed to the success of the UK business. Asda is driven by store expansion, non-food growth
and price competitiveness. Asda has focused on large stores. However, suitable space for larger stores is
hard to find in the UK and this is hampering its expansion possibilities.
In 2010 Asda introduced 180 Asda local stores after buying and converting Netto stores. These have
become their convenience-type stores. George Clothing stores and Asda Living Homestores were
launched in 2003 and 2004 respectively.
Asda currently owns 523 stores, predominately based in the North and South-East of England. The
majority of Asda stores are in town centers or in suburban areas. Food is displayed in separate areas
from clothing and non-food ranges. Asda employ 180,000 staff in the UK.
Asda has five store formats.
Supermarkets (up to 22,000 square feet) are found in small town and suburban areas. This format has
proven successful in recent years bringing Asda to locations that were once inaccessible to them. There
are 25 stores each stocking around 24,000 products.
Superstores (up to 60,000 square feet) is the typical Asda format, representing ninety percent of its UK
stores. These offer a wide range of food and non-food products. There are 296 stores stocking on
average 35,000 products.
Supercentres are over 100,000 square feet in size. At present, there are 29 stores in the UK and they
bring together the best of Wal-Mart and full food ranges. Around half of the space is dedicated to non-
food. They stock on average 40,000 products.
Asda Living – 24 stores dedicated to clothing and general merchandise products. They are 28,000
square feet in size and stock on average 23,000 products.
Asda Local Stores – local convenience type stores. 10,000 products stocked in each store. Asda
currently have 180 of these stores.
Asda is pitched at the lower end of the mass market. It competes largely on price. Asda and Tesco are
continually head-to-head in a price war, both hoping to be crowned the lowest-priced supermarket.
They generally price match very effectively.
A typical Asda supermarket carries about 35,000 product lines, 60 percent of which are food and
As well as branded products, Asda has a strong in-store label portfolio, with sub-brands such as:
Smartprice (price led products); Asda (everyday food and non-food items); Good For You (fat, salt,
sugar and calorie controlled products); Extra Special (premium food) and Great Stuff (healthy food for
Unlike Tesco and Sainsbury’s, Asda does not have a loyalty card system. This may affect its ability to
market to customers in the future. However, it reportedly prefers to invest the money that would be
required to set up the scheme into driving prices down for customers.
Despite slower growth in the last year, Asda is a strong business and a powerful player in the food and
London, EC1N 2HT
Tel: +44 207 695 6000
Consumer website: www.sainsburys.co.uk
Corporate website: www.j-sainsbury.co.uk
Sainsbury’s is currently the number three supermarket chain in the UK with 16.5 percent market share.
Sainsbury’s operates by five main values which are: Best for food and health, Sourcing with integrity,
Respect for the environment, Making a positive difference to the community, and A great place to work.
In March 2012, Sainsbury’s had 1,012 stores including 572 supermarkets and 440 convenience stores.
Sainsbury’s has annual sales of £22,943 million ($36,708 million).
Sainsbury’s has two types of stores: traditional supermarkets and convenience stores.
Sainsbury’s 440 convenience stores are on average 4,000 square feet in size. They have limited product
ranges focusing on convenience products such as sandwiches and ready meals. The stores aim for high
sales turnover of a limited range of products.
As well as branded products, Sainsbury’s has private label ranges: Taste the difference (premium
foods); Blue Parrot Café (children’s healthy food); Be Good to Yourself (low fat foods); Organics
(organic lines) and Basics (price led food).
Sainsbury’s has tended to focus on food and beverages with a smaller store footprint than Tesco and
Hilmore House, Thornton Road
Bradford, West Yorkshire BD8 9AX
Tel: +44 1274 494 166
Morrison’s is the 4th largest UK supermarket with 455 stores. Every week, 9 million customers shop in
the stores. Morrison’s employs 132,000 staff.
With stores located throughout the UK, a typical Morrison’s store is aimed at the mid- to lower-end
consumer and stocks about 24,000 product lines. The company’s strategy focuses on offering
unbeatable customer service and a pleasant shopping environment; however, it competes primarily on
price, special offers and multi-save promotions. Morrison’s tries to stock local fresh products where
Approximately 55 percent of sales come from private label ranges. Morrison’s private label portfolio
consists of: Morrison’s (quality and value); The Best (premium foods); Eat Smart (healthy foods); and
Betterbuy (price led products).
Morrison’s stands out from other grocery stores due to its “Market Street” feature. This is where a
collection of fresh food counter stalls are designed to look like a market including butchers, bakers,
fishmongers, delicatessens and salads. The majority of products sold in the Market Street are private
Morrison’s has small non-food sections within its stores focusing on music and video, health and beauty
The Co-operative Group
New Century House
PO Box 53
Manchester, M60 4ES
In 2008, the Co-operative purchased the Somerfield supermarket chain and became the fifth largest food
retailer in the UK with a 6.6 percent market share. They have over 3,000 stores in the UK.
The Co-operative group is a unique family of businesses run by over 5.5 million members, and together
they have a say in how the businesses are run.
The Co-operative own brand food range comprises of great quality ethically sourced products. They are
the largest supermarket to support Fairtrade products with over 200 lines and sell food grown on their
Tel: +44 1344 424 680
Waitrose is the supermarket business of the John Lewis Partnership, a leading department store chain.
It offers a broad range of products and high quality ingredients to an upper-middle class customer base.
Waitrose stores are located in areas where consumers with a higher-than-average disposable income
Waitrose stores are usually medium-sized compared to their UK supermarket rivals. However,
Waitrose has introduced a larger store format called Waitrose Food & Home, an example of which is
their 5,000 square meter store in Canary Wharf, London, and a new up-market food hall in the John
Lewis department store in the well known shopping area of Oxford Street, London.
Waitrose, like the major supermarket chains, has an internet shopping service. However, it has chosen
to use a key associate company, Ocado, rather than perform their own deliveries.
Waitrose has 282 stores that are predominately based in the south of the UK. These include 30 Waitrose
convenience stores. In November 2008, Waitrose opened its first store outside of the UK. It now has
two stores in Dubai.
Since Waitrose customers are less price-sensitive, it may present opportunities for American products
that are of superior quality but not always the lowest priced.
Marks and Spencer
Marks & Spencer
35 North Wharf Road
London, W2 1NW
Tel: +44 20 7935 4422
Marks and Spencer is one of the UK’s leading consumer retailers with over 21 million people visiting
its stores each week. Marks and Spencer has over 703 stores located throughout the UK, ranging from
large out-of-town stores of over 100,000 square feet to Simply Food Stores of around 700 square feet.
The largest store in the UK is located on London’s Oxford Street in the center of London and has
trading space of over 170,000 square feet, featuring both food and clothing ranges. As well as the UK,
Marks and Spencer also has over 390 stores in 44 countries.
Marks and Spencer has premium quality food departments that are aimed at middle–upper class
customers who are less price-conscious. They also attract customers shopping for special occasions,
such as dinner parties, birthdays, office celebrations, and holidays.
Marks and Spencer is also a lunchtime destination for office workers picking up sandwiches and other
snack items. In order to make the most of this market, Marks and Spencer has over 250 stand alone
Simply Food Stores that are convenience format stores of around 700square feet in size. They are based
in town centers, train stations and motorway service stations.
Marks and Spencer pioneered the concept of chilled ready prepared food and has led the way in its
development. Their food technical specifications are strict, particularly with regard to the traceability of
Although Marks and Spencer sell predominately own label products, in the last couple of years they
have introduced some branded products.
Whole Foods Market
Whole Foods Market
63-97 Kensington High Street
London W8 5JE
Tel: +44 20 7368 6100
Whole Foods Market opened its flagship store on London’s High Street Kensington in June 2007. The
80,000 square foot store is not only the largest food retail space in central London, but is also the first
Whole Foods Market in Europe and marks a major step in expanding the company’s brand beyond
It also owns four Fresh & Wild stores, which were acquired in 2004 and are based in central London.
Fresh & Wild was a natural fit with the Whole Foods Market ethos and today they continue to showcase
organic, natural, wholesome, and ethically-sourced products. Fresh & Wild’s marketing platform is to
stock food without artificial colorings, hydrogenated fat, flavorings, sweeteners or preservatives.
In January 2012 Whole Foods opened a new store in Glasgow. A new store in Richmond is planned for
Aldi Stores Ltd
Warwickshire, CV9 2SQ
Tel: +44 1827 711800
Aldi is a German owned company that opened its first UK store in 1990. Aldi, along with Lidl are the
biggest “discounter” supermarket chains in the UK. Aldi currently has 460 stores in the UK and 2.9
percent market share. Aldi opens on average one new store each week in the UK.
The discounters remain popular with shoppers from all social backgrounds. Although their market share
is not increasing they continue to open more stores and shoppers are buying more of their weekly shop
from these type of stores.
A few years ago, discounter stores were seen as stores for working class families on low incomes.
However, the high quality of the products, low prices and numerous awards received by the discounters
have seen all this change. Now, half of the customers through the door are those from upper and middle
class families. People who in the past would have shopped at Sainsbury’s or Waitrose.
The majority of Aldi’s products are private label. As well as its everyday range, it has an up-market
range called Specially Selected. The average size of Aldi stores is 1,000 sq meters. Due to limited stock,
consumers buy staple food and drink items from the Discounter, and “top off” with specialty purchases
from other retailers.
Lidl UK GmbH
19 Worple Road
Tel:+44 870 444 1234
Lidl, like Aldi, is German owned. It opened its first UK store in 1994. Lidl operates 580 stores
throughout the UK and currently has a 2.9-percent market share.
Lidl sells well known brands in its stores as well as private label.
Since 2005, both Lidl and Aldi have been going “up market” making their stores more attractive to meet
the expectations of Middle Britain. The big difference between the discounters and the big four retailers
is the number of lines they stock. A mainstream supermarket chain can stock 32,000 product lines
compared to 1,600 in Lidl and 900 lines in Aldi. Instead of having 20 different lines of mustard, they
stock one exceptionally good value product that they sell in high volume.
Post Contact and Further Information
If you have any questions or comments regarding this report, require a listing of UK importers, or need
any other assistance exporting to the United Kingdom, please contact the USDA office in London.
United States Department of Agriculture
Embassy of the United States of America
24 Grosvenor Square
London, W1K 6AH
Tel: +44 20 7894 0040
Website: www.fas.usda.gov or http://london.usembassy.gov/fas/index.html
Further information on the UK retail grocery sector is available from the British Retail Consortium and
the Institute of Grocery Distribution.
British Retail Consortium (BRC) Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD)
21 Dartmouth Street Grange Lane, Letchmore Heath
London, SW1H 9BP Watford, Hertfordshire WD2 8DQ
Tel: +44 20 7854 8900 Tel: +44 1923 857141
Website: www.brc.org.uk Website: www.igd.com