The ‘Every Little Helps’ business strategy -Part1

Do you know what the history of Tesco is? What can you learn about business strategy by thinking about it?


Tesco was founded in 1919 by Jack Cohen. He started from a market stall in East End London. Now they are one of the largest retailers in the world. About 60% of their sales and profits come from their UK business. That is their core business.

The History of Britain’s Biggest Supermarket



Tesco has the widest choice of food of any retailer in Great Britain. They have a couple of brands driving their sales. Finest, and Everyday Value sell over ₤1 billion per year each.



Tesco has expanded into 12 countries including Ireland, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Malaysia, India and China.



With well over half a million employees, Tesco’s managers have always set clear goals, the highest standars, and have never settled for anything less than the best.

Because of their values, they aim to be a responsible retailer. Just a few years ago in 2010, they opened the world’s first zero-carbon supermarket in Ramsey, Cambridgeshire. Having been awarded Green Retailer of the Year at the Annual Grocer Gold Awards 2012, Tesco aims to be a zero-carbon business by 2050.

Tesco’s continuing success relates to their constant reassessing and formulating of clear business strategies.



Tesco’s philosophy is described well by their slogan ‘Every Little Helps‘. Customers, communities and their own employees are right at the heart of everything they do. What do they want to provide? A great shopping experience for every single customer they serve online, in store, and through any other services they provide.


Business strategies

Tesco focuses on improving customer loyalty and its core UK business by developing an enhanced shopping experience for its customers.

Another aspect of Tesco strategies is their consistent improvement on competitiveness. What are the driving forces behind these strategies?

  • Price
  • Quality
  • Range
  • Innovation
  • A fantastic multichannel customer service


The vision drives the business


Focused business

Focused businesses are those, like Tesco, having a core vision that remains constant while the business strategies and practices adapt every day to an ever changing scenario. A business without a clear business will lack the necessary direction and may not survive.

What is a vision? We could define it as an aspirational view of where the business wants to be. It gives you a benchmark for what the business wants to achieve. Can you be inspired by Tesco’s vision?


‘To be the most highly valued business by: the customers we serve, the communities in which we operate, our loyal and committed colleagues and of course, our shareholders.’


Tesco’s vision has five elements. To be:

1 – Wanted and needed around the world.

2 – A growing business full of opportunities.

3 – Modern and innovative, full of ideas.

4 – Locally powerful, while applying their intel globally.

5 – Earn communities, customers and colleagues trust and loyalty by inspiring them.


The vision, mission statement and goals are interrelated. They state what an organisation is looking to achieve. On the other hand, tactics and strategies aim for how it will achieve them.


Tesco’s core purpose is kind of simple:

‘We make what matters better, together’


So once a business has a vision establised, it can devise department-based strategies to ensure goals are achieved. How will the strategic planning process be designed? Values should play a key role. They should be embedded throughout the whole process.

Tesco’s leaders recognise the key role that its mission, vision and strategies play in its success and use a range of KPIs (key performance indicators) to monitor and evaluate its performance.


Why does a company need values? If you have a vision, why values as well? Without values, a business will struggle to remain competitive. Do you know what Tesco’s values are:

  1. We treat everybody how we like to be treated.
  2. We use our scale for good.
  3. No one tries harder for our customers.


How do values affect the way Tesco operates and succeeds? Just listen to the man:

‘The Tesco values are embedded in the way we do business at every level. Our values let our people know what kind of business they are working for and let our customers know what they can expect from us.’

– Philip Clarke, Group CEO (Chief Executive Officer)


Tesco’s success relies on its values. They are the means to on-going success.


Working with communities

Just to give an example on how these big guys mean what they say. Let’s have a look to their ‘Tesco’s Three Big Ambitions’:

1- To create new opportunities for millions of young people around the world.

2- To improve health and through this help tackle the global obesity crisis.

3- To lead in reducing food waste globally.


So this is what they want to achieve in terms of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). They even talk about their commitment as ‘Tesco in Society’.  Their ‘big three’ are underpinned by what they call ‘The Essentials’:

  • We trade responsibly
  • We are reducing our environmental impact
  • We are a great employer
  • We support our local communities

These values drive everything Tesco does at every level. Even more than that, they help them stand out from their competitors.


Write the answers as a comment at the end of this post.

1- What is Tesco’s ‘why’?

2- How do you explain in your own words what the values of a business are?

3- What are your values as a professional / entrepreneur / business?

4- How do you come up with the Vision / Mission / Values / Strategies in your business?

Read ‘The ‘Every Little Helps’ business strategy – Part2

Do the 7 activities from the ‘Tesco’s Case Study’

Read ‘The ‘Every Little Helps’ business strategy – Part3

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