24 (119) 2016
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British Investment

21 years of innovation in Polish retail

by Daria Kulińska, head of communications, Tesco Poland
Header content daria kulinska


Tesco was founded in 1919 by Jack Cohen from a market stall in London’s East End. Over the years our business has grown and we now operate in 12 countries around the world, employ over 530,000 people and serve tens of millions of customers every week.

Tesco Poland is now one of the leading self-service retailers on the Polish market with more than 400 stores including hypermarkets and small local supermarkets. Today, the company employs 28,000 people and offers 1,500 products from Polish suppliers. Its e-commerce service reaches 14.8 million Poles providing customers with innovative way for everyday shopping. But here in Poland, t it all started in 1995 with the acquisition of three local companies operating small regional chains of stores.

History of growth

By acquiring Minor, Madex and Savia from the Bielsko Biała and Wałbrzych regions in southern Poland, Tesco obtained a unique opportunity to learn more about the Polish market and expectations of customers. In November 1998, the company opened the first Tesco store in Poland, a hypermarket located in Wroclaw’s Bielany Shopping Centre. The opening day was a great event for the local community - with over 40,000 people visiting. Next year, the retailer introduced to Poland Tesco Value products, one of the first own-brands in the country. This line of products, with their distinctive white and blue packaging, allowed company to offer customers good quality products at the lowest prices. In 2004 Tesco invested nearly 150m zlotys in its first central warehouse. For the region, this meant 350 new jobs with 150 more temporary roles. Currently Tesco operates three Distribution Centres supplying stores in food and non-food products. In February 2008, Tesco opened its 300th store in Poland. From 2009 customers could join new Clubcard loyalty program. In 2012, Tesco customers could order grocery shopping online from their homes using new Tesco dot.com service. The biggest change in company’s history occurred in 2015, when Tesco created a single business unit in Central Europe. These changes aim at making the business stronger and more sustainable for the long-term, enabling  Tesco to do more for customers across Central Europe.

Leader in grocery home shopping

Last August, Tesco dot.com service celebrated its third birthday in Poland. Now, Tesco Ezakupy reaches almost 15 million people in Poland, which makes Tesco is a leader on the Polish e-market.

Saving time, low prices, shopping comfort – these are features that contribute to the success of Tesco online shopping service. It owes its popularity not only to innovative approach to technology but also consideration for customers’ needs. From 2012 the number of Tesco hypermarkets providing online shopping services has grown from 14 to 27. It means that customers appreciate the service and its constant development. Achieving such a high result would not be possible without the investment in infrastructure. In 2012 Tesco Ezakupy started delivering shopping with 86 vans. Since then, the number has nearly tripled, and now Tesco delivers its orders to customers using 236 vehicles.

At the beginning, heavy products like water and milk were most commonly bought online. However now, online sales of meat, fish and bread have increased. Customers trust the freshness of foods delivered by vans equipped with special refrigerators and freezers.

Not all the orders are delivered directly to customers. Some decide to pick up their orders in Click and Collect points; 81% of customers declare that they choose this form of shopping because is much more comfortable and helps them save time.

Essentials of responsibility

As one of the largest retailers in Poland, Tesco has a significant opportunity to make a positive difference to society. The company gives jobs to 28,000 people and offers the products of 1,500 Polish suppliers, nearly half of whom are small businesses, employing less than 50 people. Tesco promotes Polish producers and supports local economy. Having such impact, over the years Tesco decided to focus all efforts on two issues which concern people and communities around the world, issues that also matter to the company and issues where it can make a real difference: health and increasing levels of obesity and the huge quantities of food currently going to waste.

Tesco creates opportunities wherever it operates and as one of the biggest suppliers of food, the company wants to help its customers through education about proper nutrition and offering good quality products, emphasising freshness. Tesco encourages its employees and customers to lead healthier lives and becomes their partner in everyday purchases, and thus joins the fight against the global problem of obesity.

Since October 2013, Tesco as the first retailer established a partnership with the Federation of Polish Food Banks and transfers of surplus food (fruit, vegetables and bread) from stores to local Food Banks. This way, Tesco is not only trying to streamline its own internal processes and thus reduce the amount of wasted food in its stores, but also to help those in need.

Tesco’s efforts in corporate social responsibility (CSR) have been recognised many times by CSR opinion leaders in Poland and across the region. Recently, Tesco was singled out for years of cooperation with Responsible Business Forum, the longest running non-governmental organisation in Poland, which concentrates on social responsibility of business. The awards were presented during the event connected with publication of Responsible business in Poland. Good practices ranking, which sums up CSR achievements of Polish companies. There were 12 Tesco programmes singled out.

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