When Retail Week was born, Tesco was not the grocery leader it is today. But it was well on its way to achieving that status. Having laid the foundations of its national store network, the retailer was expanding aggressively.

Alongside the store expansion, in the early 1990s Tesco embarked on a marketing campaign that would cement its brand in the UK. Its slogan “Every little helps”, which made its debut in 1992, has passed into marketing folklore.

Tesco’s marketing success has continued ever since. Last year it launched a campaign to become Britain’s biggest discounter, introducing hundreds of new lines into its stores, such as Daisy washing up liquid and Packers Best tea bags. At the Discounter brand launch, marketing director Richard Brasher said it was the biggest new product launch since Tesco Value.

The Value range’s 1993 launch was followed up by the Tesco Clubcard in 1995, which now boasts about 14 million active card holders. It has helped Tesco steal a march on Sainsbury’s to be crowned the UK’s market-leading food retailer, with profits topping £2bn.

In 1996, Tesco embarked on its overseas expansion, which has since grown phenomenally. The grocer’s international business now accounts for 50 per cent
of its total sales and, according to market analyst IGD, the supermarket is poised to become the world’s second largest retailer by 2012. Its turnover is set to rocket by two thirds despite the economic turmoil.

The grocer’s international expansion began in Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia and throughout the late 1990s and into the early noughties it entered Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Turkey and China. Most recently it has pushed into the US with its Fresh & Easy format.

In 1997 when Tesco lifer Terry Leahy took over he followed former chief Sir Ian MacLaurin’s mantra of listening to the customer, introducing initiatives such as a Clubcard point per pound spent. He also introduced customer champions to assist any shoppers.

A key part of Leahy’s strategy was to diversify the brand into other areas, which led to the launch of Tesco Personal Finance in 1997. The grocer now offers everything from current accounts and savings accounts to credit cards and loans.

Tesco bought out its partner Royal Bank of Scotland’s 50 per cent stake in Tesco Personal Finance in November last year in a £1bn deal. The wholly owned subsidiary, now headed by Andrew Higginson, has continued expanding its services.

It has flourished since confidence in UK banking collapsed. This year it revealed increasing balances from customers flocking to its new savings accounts, establishing it as a self-funding business with an optimistic future.

Part of Tesco’s success over the past 21 years has come from its new formats. From its traditional supermarkets, it went on to launch Metro stores of between 7,000 and 15,000 sq ft in 1992, taking its products into town and city centre locations. Then Tesco Express - typically stores of up to 3,000 sq ft - followed in 1994.

The first Tesco Extra opened in 1997 in Pitsea, Essex, stocking both food and non-food in a shop of more than 60,000 sq ft. As the non-food side of the business gathered strength, Tesco opened its Homeplus format in 2005, dedicated to non-food including clothing.

The entrance into non-food and the launch of online home delivery service Tesco Direct in 2006 means shoppers can now buy practically anything from Tesco, either online or in stores. From to clothing, health and beauty to garden furniture, Tesco has evolved to become a competitor to every retailer
on the high street.