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.
In 1924, Jack launched his company’s first own brand product, Tesco Tea. This was 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.
In 1929, Jack Cohen opened the first Tesco store in Burnt Oak, Edgware, London.In 1934, Jack bought a plot of land at Angel Road, Edmonton, 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. By the late 1930s, Jack was growing the business by purchasing stores and renaming them Tesco throughout the London suburbs.
In 1947, Tesco Stores (Holdings) was floated on the stock exchange with a share price of 25 pence. Within a year, and after a trip to North America, Jack ventured into self-service. The first of these new stores opened in St Albans, Hertfordshire in 1948 with a mixed reaction from customers at first. The company continued to grow and expand by 1961, Tesco were selling household goods and clothing throughout around 300 UK stores. In 1963, the innovative Green Shield Stamps incentive scheme was introduced. Stamps collected at the checkout could be exchanged for a range of goods from a catalogue.
The term 'superstore' was first coined in 1968, when the Tesco Superstore was opened in Crawley, West Sussex. It was 40,000 square feet in size and sold food and non-food goods. In the same year, Tesco purchased the Victor Value chain.
Jack Cohen died in 1979, but his small enterprise was now the second biggest chain of its type in the UK, behind Sainsbury’s.
Tesco’s innovation and rise continued unabated and in 1982 computerised checkouts were introduced. In 1985, they launched their own healthy eating range of products. They were the first major retailer in the UK to do so.
Nearly two decades later, Tesco are the biggest UK grocery chain and have a presence in 12 overseas markets, including the largest market share in several.
Address: Tesco Stores Ltd, New Tesco House, Delamare Road, Cheshunt, Herts, EN8 9SL
Telephone: 01992 632222
Email: Website contact form