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History of Tesco

Tesco was founded by Jack Cohen, who served with the Royal Air Force during the First World War. After returning in 1919, 21 year old Jack invested 30 pounds of his reward for military service to buy surplus food stockpiles and he opened a little stall in East London. On the first day he had a four pound turnover and one pound profit. Little by little, his business started to boom and Jack expanded to other markets all over London. He also began wholesale trade.

The first line of Cohen brand goods placed on the market was Tesco tea. In 1924, the name which the company later took on as its corporate name emerged. The name Tesco contains the initials of the owner of the firm, Mr. T. E. Stockwell, who supplied the firm with tea and of the initials of Jack’s surname – Cohen. Towards the end of the twenties, instead of stall trade Jack focused on window shop trade taking place on the main street. In 1929, the name Tesco first flared above a shop provided with a lock in North London (Burnt Oak, Edgware).

In 1932 Tesco Stores became a commandite company. Two years later, Jack bought a piece of land in North London (Angel Road, Edmonton) with the intent to construct the head office and the warehouse there. The construction plan had proposed and specified new ways of materials inventory control and the warehouse became the first modern building of this type in the country. At the beginning, the stock kept 50 branches going, and in 1939, the number doubled.

After the start of the Second World War, Jack launched (before the government did) food rationing to make sure everyone received an equal food supply. To ensure enough fresh vegetables for his trade he bought three acres of land with greenhouses and nine acres of fields in Cheshunt and Hertfordshire for growing cucumbers, tomatoes and fruit trees on. Nowadays, part of the English headquarters’ administration buildings are situated there.

Since World War II, Tesco Stores corporation has been growing steadily. As far as Central Europe is concerned, the purchase of 13 department stores from Kmart corp. (CZ Rep. and Slovakia) in 1993 and opening of the first Tesco hypermarket in Budapest in the same year is proof beyond reasonable doubt. © 2007 Tesco

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