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Tesco Plc: Business and Financial Performance Analysis

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Business
Wordcount: 4717 words Published: 18th Jun 2018

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This Research and Analysis Project report concentrated on the ‘Business and Financial performance’ of Tesco Plc over a three year period from 2008 to 2010. The analysis report throws more lights on the operational and financial performance of Tesco Plc by having regard to its business strategy. One of its major rivals in the industry which is J. Sainsbury’s Plc has been used as a benchmark in order to compare Tesco plc performance.

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This topic was selected because there has been much and extreme competition in the retail supermarket industry in recent times. With most of these businesses having to compete for their share of the market. Most them are thinking and aiming of becoming a market leader one. But at the heat of this competition is the issue of survival and going concern which is at the centre of every these retail businesses since failure to consider them could result to total collapse of their entire operations. To this end I decided to investigate Tesco which is one of the UK’s most successful and also one of the world’s biggest retail supermarkets to find out how it has operated so far and to see the level of it business and financial success over the last three year period.


Tesco plc was chosen because it has become one of the world’s biggest retail supermarkets in recent times. Considering the size of its market share compare to most of its major competitors, the company has grown so rapidly thereby increasing in profitability. Therefore I wanted to find out whether or not the profitability levels have come as a result of its rapid and consistent growth, since growth and profitability do not always move hand in hand. I also wanted to know more about the company’s strategy which has seen it expand so quickly and rapidly than its rivals do.


The main aims and objectives of this project are to analyse the business and financial performance of Tesco plc. It should be noted that most companies are not managed and directed by their owners (shareholders) but rather appoint Directors and entrust in their hands with stewardship of their investments. Therefore it is appropriate for these Directors to account to these owners the stewardship of those investments entrusted in their care.

Shareholders and stakeholders of every company including Tesco plc will like to know whether or not their investments and interest are been managed properly since this will help them decide whether to sell off their shares or keep them and even invest more. Stakeholders alike may also want to know the company’s performance, progress and its success in order to take an informed decisions.

The project will find out whether Tesco plc’s shareholders are properly rewarded for their investments and risks they have taken or not. And also to ascertain how satisfactory Tesco plc stakeholders are.

To achieve this, ratio analysis was employed to analyse the company’s last three years financial statements (2008, 2009, 2010) and this was compared with the rivals three results in order to obtain objectivity and fairness.

There was also a consideration regarding the going concern status of the business as it is central to the company’s long term survival. As a consequence, tools such as SWOT and 5 Forces analysis were considered to assess its non financial information in order to establish Tesco plc’s current competitive position in the market, any strengths and weaknesses they have as well as opportunities and threats they are faced with.


As part of this project the following research question were generated in order to respond to them in the analysis:

  • Has the shareholders investment managed properly?
  • How well have Tesco plc shareholders are been rewarded for risks taken?
  • Have stakeholders interest been kept satisfied?
  • Is the company’s current business strategy sustainable?
  • What is the company’s long term survival strategy?
  • Will the company be able to continue to enjoy rapid increase and expansion?


Sources and their reasons

Tesco Plc’s 2008, 2009, 2010 Annual reports

These individual annual reports provided me with detailed and adequate information which I used for analysing the business and financial performance of the company. The annual reports were very useful in calculating and analysing since they were the most current results.

J. Sainsbury’s Plc Annual Reports for 2008, 2009, 2010

Like the Tesco Plc annual reports, these ones from J. Sainsbury’s Plc also assisted me in analysing the business and financial performance of the company and again the most recent financial reports.

The Chairmen and the Chief Executives statements from both companies

These were useful in that they provided me with the companies operational highlights which helped my analysis to reflect those highlights

Quarterly Reports on their trading activates

There were vital information that I gathered from these quarterly reports as well, which aided my analysis.

Unaudited interim company financial Reports

Even though these reports were unaudited and may not provide much positive signs, however they supplied me with trends on these companies’ operations to establish its performance and also to see if there was the need for issuance of profit warning.

News papers

Information gathered from the news paper publications included experts opinions, comments and suggestions which could affect the share price of the company on the market. And as such was useful to the shareholders and potential shareholders.

Expert Reports

These were other independent expert views gathered apart from the news papers which throw much more lights on the future and potential prospects of the company by showing trends, projections, forecast, diagnosis, etc.


Continuous visit to libraries such as the Woolwich library, British library, white chapel, etc. These libraries gave me the chance to have access to the data bases of all the listed companies’ information.

Books and journals

Most of the ACCA text books such as Paper F2, F7, P3, ACCA students’ magazines, Financial accounting books, etc were all useful in this exercise in getting a deeper understanding of the financial analysis.

2.2 Method used in information gathering

The secondary data were gathered and used for the conduct of this report which was collected through the following means:

Libraries – Libraries attendance was used to collect data from sources such as articles, News papers, Textbooks, journals, magazines, CD ROM, etc.

Search engines (Websites) – Websites that were considered important were visited to collect data including that of Tesco Plc website, J. Sainsbury’s Plc and others. They are (www.tesco.com), (www.j-sainsbury.co.uk), http://www.emeraldinsight.com, http://www.ssrn.com, http://search.ebscohost.com, etc.

Request Letter – A formal written letter was sent to both the secretaries of Tesco Plc and J. Sainsbury’s Plc to request a copy of their 2008, 2009, 2010 annual reports which helped in the analysis.

Marketlineinfo.com/ Datamonitor.com – Specialised information were sort from these sources to help analyse the non- financial information such as SWOT AND 5 Forces analyses techniques.

Financial Analysis Made Easy (FAME) – This source gave me financial information including Tesco Plc and J. Sainsbury’s Plc and contained ratios analysis for companies. There was also non- financial information such as the employees’ numbers, structure of company ownership, issues relating to corporate governance.

Accounting techniques used

The under-listed techniques were used for the conduct of this research in order to arrive at a reasonable and an objective conclusions which helped to give recommendations

  • Profitability ratios
  • Liquidity ratios
  • Efficiency and solvency
  • Investor ratios/ Stock market ratios

As part of the conduct of this research these financial ratios were computed in understanding of the company performance in answering the research questions mentioned in 1.5 above were. They included:

  • Revenue Growth ratio: this showed the movement of growth in revenue for the years 2008, 2009 and 2010 for both Tesco Plc and J. Sainsbury Plc.
  • Profitability and returns ratios: These ratios indicated well Tesco Plc has superiority in terms of Profit generation for the three years as oppose to its rival J. Sainsbury Plc.
  • Working capital ratios: these ratios are pointers of short-term financial standing of both companies. The idea was to establish these companies ability to remain in business by been able to finance its short term debts with short term sources of finance without having to result to the use of long term finance (fixed assets).
  • Efficiency ratios like the profit per employee and turnover per employee were all considered. This was able to show how efficient Primark has been managed in relation to its workers.
  • Investor ratios: the investor ratios measured how well have the shareholders been adequately rewarded for the risk taken. And also these ratios could assist potential shareholders to take any informed decision (s).



Tesco is one of the largest food retailers in the world, operating around 2,318 stores and employing over 326,000 people. As well as operating in the UK, it has stores in the rest of Europe and Asia. It also provides online services through its subsidiary, Tesco.com. The UK is the company’s largest market operating under four banners: Extra, Superstore, Metro and Express. Tesco sells approximately 40,000 food products in its superstores, as well as clothing and other non-food lines. The company’s own-label products are at three levels, value, normal and finest. Tesco Plc own brand accounts for approximately 50% of sales. As well as convenience produce, many stores have gas stations. The company has become one of Britain’s largest petrol independent retailers. Other retailing services offered in the UK include Tesco Personal Finance and Tesco.com. Tesco Personal Finance is a joint venture with the Royal Bank of Scotland. It has over 3.4 million customers, and provides various financial products and services. The company has operations in the rest of Europe, including the Republic of Ireland, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Tesco’s Republic of Ireland business operates in the region of 82 stores, and around 60 stores in the Hungarian market. Tesco’s Polish operations include former HIT operated stores. It operates around 66 hypermarkets and supermarkets in this country. In the Czech Republic and Slovakian markets, Tesco operates 22 and 23 hypermarkets respectively. Tesco also operates stores in Asia, including Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan. The company operates 64 stores in Thailand and 28 stores in the South Korean Market, while in the Taiwanese and Malaysian markets it has three stores in each nation.



J. Sainsbury plc operates a total of 890 stores comprising 547 supermarkets and 343 convenience stores. It jointly owns Sainsbury’s Bank with Lloyds Banking Group and has two property joint ventures with Land Securities Group PLC and The British Land Company PLC. The Group also holds 294 freehold and long leasehold stores. It employs approximately 150,000 staff. The company’s stores offer a range of food, and complementary non-food products and services primarily under the Sainsbury’s brand. It also provides an Internet-based home delivery shopping service. In addition, it provides insurance, credit cards, savings products, and loans. The Sainsbury’s brand is built upon a heritage of providing customers with healthy, safe, fresh and tasty food. Quality and fair prices go hand-in-hand with a responsible approach to business. Sainsbury’s stores have a particular emphasis on fresh food and strive to innovate continuously and improve products in line with their customer needs (http://www.j-sainsbury.co.uk). Its businesses are organized into three operating segments: Retailing (Supermarkets and Convenience); Financial services (Sainsbury’s Bank joint venture), and Property investment (British Land joint venture and Land Securities joint venture) (http://uk.reuters.com).

Companies Strategy

3.2.1 Tesco Plc business strategy

Tesco Plc has a well-established and steady strategy for growth that has assisted in strengthening its core activities in the UK and its further expansion in to new markets (abroad). The basis for the strategy is to widen the scale of it operations to enable it deliver well-built sustainable long-term growth by way of pursuing the customer into large growing markets at home. By that it offers customers with products including financial services, telecoms and non-food and new markets abroad, originally in Central Europe and Asia, and more lately in the US. The company’s 1997 diversification strategy lunched has successful become its foundation in recent times. The company has become market leader in most of the markets that saw the creation and development of their new businesses out the UK for the last twelve years since these businesses are highly competitive and profitable. Tesco plc strategy has shown a massive progress consistently. The strategy has five essential rudiments which reflect on the company’s four conventional areas of concentration and the business’ long-term commitments regarding the society as well as the environment. The objectives of the Tesco Plc strategy focus on:

  • To become a successful global retailer
  • To develop its core business in the UK
  • To become as strong in non-food as in food.
  • To build up retailing services – such as Tesco Personal Finance, Telecoms and Tesco.com
  • To put the community at the heart of what it does (http://www.tescoplc.com)

3.2.2 J. Sainsbury’s Plc business strategy

J. Sainsbury’s Plc strategy focuses on five main areas which are underpinned by the company’s strong heritage and brand which consistently sets it apart from its main rivals. One of such strategies is great quality products at fair prices – the company with its consistent innovation provides its customers with healthy, safe, fresh and tasty food that are also sourced with integrity. With over 19 million customers been served every week and increase in market indicate how successful the strategy has been. The company’s second strategy is on the acceleration of the growth of its complementary non-food and services through its philosophy of quality and value, and to offer a broader shopping experience for consumers. The company opened 51 convenient stores during 2009/10 as part of its strategy of reaching as many customers as possible with it brand. I also expanded its groceries online business to reach almost 90% households with non food products lunched in July 2009 making 8,000 products now available nationwide. J. Sainsbury Plc plan to open 75 to 100 more in convenient stores in 2010/11. Since operational flexibility can be improved by property/ assets ownership and even further exploitation of potential development opportunities, J. Sainsbury Plc increased the value of it freehold property portfolio to £9.8 billion (http://www.j-sainsbury.co.uk)

In a highly competitive marketplace in which all UK retailers are fighting to sustain their sales against a slowdown in consumer spending, Primark is doing remarkably well.

The UK high streets and malls are packed with no-frills fashion retailers. That means that Primark has plenty of competitors all aiming at the same type of customers. It is not easy to sell cheap fashion. Well-established rivals such as BHS and Matalan are struggling, while results at Primark are booming.

The market segment targeted by Primark is the fashion conscious under-35s with the slogan “Look good pay less”. It offers fashionable clothes at very competitive prices (for example, jeans for £4) and reasonable quality: in other words, a value for money strategy. In competitive strategy terms, Primark is a pursuing a classic ‘focus cost leadership’ strategy.

The American management professor Michael Porter of Harvard University developed a well-known approach to the competitive strategy of firms. He argued that companies could achieve a higher rate of profit (or at least potential profit) in one of two ways: they could either provide a product or service that is identical to that provided by rival companies, but at a lower cost than rival firms, or they could provide a product or service that is differentiated from that of rival firms such that customers would be prepared to pay more for their product than for a rival firm’s product. (R. M Grant (2005)).

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The first approach would mean that the firm has a cost advantage over rival firms, allowing it to pursue a ‘Cost Leadership’ strategy; the second approach would mean that they had a differentiation advantage, allowing it to pursue a ‘Differentiation’ strategy. Firms selling a ‘no-frills’ product are usually attempting a cost leadership strategy, such as Easyjet (UK) or SouthWest (USA) airlines. The ‘focus’ part of Primark’s strategy is the specific customer segment it focuses on i.e. that of the under-35s. It is not attempting to sell to everybody. It has selected a particular customer segment, just as the ’18-30′ holiday company has selected a clear market segment based on age group within the leisure industry.

In the last three years Primark has got a lot of things right. Some of its strongest successful competitors are BHS, TK Maxx and George at ASDA. However, although all three are in the ‘value’ segment and therefore have similar market positioning, the other three have different strategies to that of Primark. TK Maxx sells heavily-discounted prestige brands and George at Asda has created its own private-label brand mostly at out-of town stores. Primark is a high street retailer which has a family of brands and focuses much more on buying, logistics and supply chain management rather than branding.

In its pursuit of ever-lower costs, teams of buyers in UK and Ireland travel internationally both to identify fashion trends and to seek out the most competitive suppliers. The company uses computerised customs clearance (speed to market) and dedicated warehousing and distribution facilities, such as the giant warehouse owned and run by the logistics company TNT but dedicated solely to Primark stock distribution. This one warehouse is centrally located for the whole UK market, near a junction of the M1 motorway and it houses 50% of Primark’s UK stock, receiving 30 lorry loads each day. (This warehouse was destroyed by fire in November 2005). Computerised warehousing and distribution systems are linked to computerised daily sales and stock information (rapid restocking of fast-selling items) by size and colour for each item in every store to optimise turnover. (www.open2.net)



James and Akharaserani (1988) indicated that external phenomena have impact on internal ones. By PEST, attention is paid to Political, Economic, Social and Technological (PEST) factors which could influence positively or negatively on the growth or otherwise of the organisation. The discussion below throws more light on these external issues of the organisation.


According to Lancaster et al (2002 p. 55) ‘The political environment is the starting point from which many other macro-environment forces originate.’ Tesco operates in a variety of political environments; the head office being in the UK. The UK has a functional democracy with elections and multi-party political system. The USA has a similar democratic setup. The political factors in both countries are stable and promote the growth of private enterprise. Most of the European markets are situated in Eastern part and the markets are Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia and Turkey. The political factors here are not as stable as UK or USA. Asia is the largest market outside of the UK. It has presence in Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, China, and Japan. Of these Japan is quite stable. The most political problems are from Thailand where there is opposition from local businesses and so Tesco faces the biggest problems here.


The UK and the US are both rich countries even though faced with a recession at present. The East European markets are much poorer in comparison, but Lancaster et al (2002) indicate that there is a massive improvement in the economic environment of the Far East with the likes of Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and China. To prevail in the economic condition of the Far East, Tesco has lowered its prices which are welcomed by the local population there.


The social structure in USA and UK are quite akin where shopping in supermarkets has existed for a long time. But for the Asian countries, the concept is relatively new. Turkey and Malaysia are both Muslim countries; hence their religious laws have to be taken into consideration by Tesco.


Assessing today’s technology, Headrick (2009) says, it has brought the world to a stunning advancement. It is in the light of this that Lancaster et al (2002) establish that technology is a very important tool which has a huge impact on the marketing firm. By technology, Japan, US, UK and Malaysia have similar facilities. South Korea is also strong in this regard. Thailand might be the least technologically advanced of the markets. This is also the case with the East European markets. China has technical capability, but is mainly limited to its cities. But it can be said that the level of technology needed by Tesco in all these markets are available and hence not much obstacles in this area are anticipated.


The concept of value chain has been widely and intensively spoken about by astute authors. The concept was propounded by Michael Porter. Explaining the value chain concept, Porter (1985) describes it as, ‘A general framework for thinking strategically about the activities involved in any business and assessing their relative cost and role in differentiation.’ Writing on the same concept, Longbottom (2006) intimated that information dissemination across the value chain has increasingly become indispensable to organisations which want to stay in competition. To support Longbottom’s assertion, Dekker (2003) expressed that the importance of the value chain cannot be over-emphasised as it grants the organisation an opportunity to achieve the maximum.

According to Porter (1985) the value chain has two major parts, namely; Primary and Support activities. He says the Primary activities are those directly linked with production. They are: Inbound logistics, Operations, Outbound logistics, Marketing and Sales and Service. The Support or the Secondary activities he identified as: Procurement, Human Resources Management, Technology Development and the Firm’s Infrastructure.

Below is a demonstration of how Tesco applies the value chain in its activities.

4.1 Primary Activities:

Inbound logistics

Tesco gets its materials from the suppliers who are mostly the producers and stores them in its depot.


Those that need to be turned into finished products are processed as such

Outbound logistics

Tesco has trucks of different types which supply the various stores.

Marketing and Sales

Tesco has various means of marketing its products which include the application of the promotional mix producing to meet the needs of the customer


Tesco has a track record of providing an outstanding service to customers, especially after sales. This is to find out the impression of the customer after the usage of the product.

4.2 Support Activities:


Tesco has been getting in touch with its suppliers without middlemen, hence minimising procurement cost in its purchases.

Human Resources Management

Tesco employs people who have the expertise and the commitment to serve the company with all the loyalty. Mention could be made of Terry who committed his business acumen to Tesco for fourteen years as Chief Executive Officer.

Technology Development

This is an area Tesco cannot be beaten to it, as it has created a formidable e-commerce for its activities through Tesco.com

The Firm’s Infrastructure

In terms of infrastructure, Tesco has high class modern facilities for its stores and spacious parking places in most of its stores.


Speaking on the advent of technology, Goessi (2008) expressed that ‘Technology has taken the business environment by storm.’ Throwing more light on that, Headrick (2009) intimated that due to technology, there has been an excessive threat to the business environement. Gone are the days when every single activity that was done in organisations was manual. In recent years, automation has taken business to another level and those organisations wishing to stay and aspire ought to follow suit. The points discussed below would afford Tesco, the opportunity to gain competitive advantage.

Strategic Differentiation

According to Hitt et al (2009) a good IS would afford the organisation to strategically differentiate itself to be competitively ahead. In line with this, Tesco differentiates itself and gain competitive advantage by offering special services like club cards to the customer.

Integration of Supply and Distribution

Tesco could apply IS as a tool to assess and track inventory. By that the supply chain could be monitored with minor problems detected before they become major ones.


The Information System being practised in the organisation would determine how expeditious information would be disseminated. A communication system which is automated in nature would minimise cost and improve the image of Tesco as an organisation.

Quick Decision Making

Information System paves way for important information to be delivered at the right time. Any manager who wants to make a quick decision in the current business dispensation should find IS as an indispensable tool. This will provide the manager to do a quick assessment on a bordering issue and find a solution.


Tesco as an organisation has made a tremendous impact on the business landscape. Even though it had gone through rough times and still faces some competition which is inevitable in contemporary business circles, Tesco has become a household name. With its performance in both the local and the international scenes, couple with the vast technological incorporation, the sky could still be its limit as Goessi (2008) expressed, ‘Many businesses today are still realizing the power their technology possesses, but once strategic knowledge is realised, the potential is endless.’


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