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UK Insights

Is Tesco Extra Watford the future?

Bryan Roberts

Insights Director

Consumer Shoppers 12.08.2013 / 00:00

Tesco Extra Watford

Beyond the hype, what does the new ‘flagship’ Tesco Extra in Watford tell us about the future of UK grocery?

The relaunch of Tesco Extra Watford has understandably been heralded as a pivotal day in influencing the future of the UK grocery sector and in reshaping the future of its largest protagonist. There have been some recent and impending store openings and store remodels (Kensington, West Bromwich, Dudley, Gateshead, Chelmsford, Tooley Street, Purley, Coventry Arena etc.) that have hinted at Tesco's intentions, but the most tangible crystallisation of what Tesco sees as the future of the hypermarket is sited in the beautiful location of Watford.

Projects of this type can normally be slipped into one of three contrived buckets: white elephant; red herring; or silver bullet.

Key Numbers

  • 1988 Year Tesco Extra Watford first opened
  • 80,000+ sq. ft. Size of Tesco Extra Watford
  • 600 Staff

The white elephant point of view would suggest the Watford store is an expensive shiny bauble that will impress journalists and city types, but do little to change the fortunes of Tesco as a whole. In my view, nothing could be further from the truth. There is plenty here, ranging from the exciting and glamorous (H+H, Giraffe, misty veg) to the incredibly mundane (shelves, floors) that could be dropped into new and refurbished Tesco hypermarkets and supermarkets to great effect.

The red herring viewpoint is equally cynical and is based upon other retailers who have thrown the kitchen sink at one or two flagship stores but executed absolutely none of the best practice in any other outlets. There is one notable example of a listed retailer that managed to get a buy note issued by brokers on the basis of a single visit to a new London store, somehow overlooking the fact that 99% of its stores across the UK are literally falling to pieces. To be honest, this says as much about some analysts who get a nosebleed leaving Zone Two as it does about the retailer. Anyway, I'm comfortable that Tesco will not be committing this same mistake. I've already seen several of the Watford innovations in place in other Tesco stores across the country and I'm confident that Tesco is determined to deploy these innovations and improvements where appropriate in terms of shopper needs and ROI.

So, is the Watford store a silver bullet? Can it, and learnings from it, become a solution to the clear structural issues that are looming over Tesco's big box estate? The answer is a cautious yes. The treatment given to the rationalised non-food range is brilliant and should drive sales. F&F is a million times better than that found in other stores. Fresh and ambient grocery has exponentially improved and the bakery and foodservice bells and whistles could help many units in terms of footfall and dwell time. If a handful of scalable Watford highlights can be sprinkled across the entire business, Tesco's performance will materially benefit.

Read a more detailed walk-through the new Tesco Extra Watford from Bryan Roberts, including photographs, on the Kantar Retail IQ website.

Source : Kantar Retail

Editor's Notes

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