Why is it called ‘Tesco’?

I’m not going to spend too much time on this one, because I don’t want anyone thinking I’m endorsing Tesco. But a few years ago I read a book called ‘Tescopoly’, and I think the history to Tesco’s early years, and the origin of its name, is worth knowing.

In 1919, in London, Jack Cohen was a market seller who was in the habit of ‘buying it cheap and piling it high’. He would buy surplus stock, and also cheap ‘damaged’ stock (from London suppliers or from the cargo ships) which he would sell on his stalls. In 1924 he bought a large stock of tea from a supplier named Thomas Edward Stockwell (T.E.S.). Combining Stockwell’s name with his own (Cohen) he labelled the tea with the name ‘Tesco’ and the company was born.

The company is now everywhere, and I don’t really like it. I have nothing against their business, they just aren’t making things great for the smaller companies. But I like a good story and this isn’t a bad one. It’s also worth noting that Tesco opened its first self-service store in 1956. And that it is quite possible that they had a hand in inventing this type of shop. Jack Cohen was thought to have piled up stock on his shops’ floor and surfaces, doing this meant that customers could serve themselves and the number of staff could be reduced. As the stock was already quite cheap he didn’t have to worry too much about the cost of theft.

(The book I originally read a few years ago is called ‘Tescopoly’ and is written by Andrew Simms. I didn’t finish the book as it didn’t really have any great insight, and seemed to mostly just repeat what we already knew about the corporate giant. It’s worth noting though that I was working at a library at the time and came across this book because it was new and I was labelling it, and it had the longest Dewey decimal number I’ve ever put on a book: 381.45641300941. I’m pretty sure it was a few digits shorter back then though.)

[carried over from ‘anyadditionalinformation’ wordpress blog]

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