Shoppers will surely be delighted with the availability of Tesco products in select SM supermarkets and hypermarkets. Here’s the story I wrote on the launch of this British brand, published in Inquirer, Lifestyle section July 9.
WHEN HE WAS GROWING UP, narrates British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad, his mother would send him on errands to buy Tesco products in their neighborhood store. Later, as a married man, his wife would send him on errands to buy Tesco products in their neighborhood store. Now, as a diplomat living in Manila, he can still find these same Tesco products available to him—except this time they’re in SM Supermarket and SM Hypermarket, which has just brought the brand to the Philippines.
A much loved British brand, Tesco is the largest retailer of British goods, with over 3500 stores in the UK (including franchises) and 500,000 colleagues worldwide. Its range of products covers everything from canned goods to furniture, from toys to books, from clothes to electronics.
According to Luke Elliott, Tesco senior commercial manager for Group Food, Tesco has 28 ½ per cent market share in the UK. It’s so ubiquitous that people in Britain find they can’t do without it. British Filipino TV host Patti Grandidge says that while living in the UK, she had her own favorite Tesco products. After moving to Manila, she missed them so much she would ask friends flying in from the UK to buy her favorite Tesco products for her.
Ambassador Ahmad himself admits to being a big fan of Tesco. Perhaps because of all those errands he had to do, he knew exactly where everything was in his favorite Tesco supermarket. During the recent launch of Tesco products in SM Aura, he even proudly showed off a Tesco paper bag that had contained his latest haul.
“We are very proud to have partnered with Tesco,” says SM Supermarket President Joey Mendoza. “Tesco is a very practical brand; it’s great, it’s very useful and surprisingly affordable to everyone.”
Of the thousands of products Tesco manufactures, about 400 are currently available in select branches of SM Supermarket and SM Hypermarket. These include snacks, sauces, jams, beans, condiments, spices, chocolate spreads, coffee, cereals, as well as personal care and home cleaning products. It’s a very focused collection, says Elliott, which they may expand over time.
Most of these products are manufactured in the UK; some are made from ingredients sourced from around Europe but packaged in the UK, such as green olives (from Spain) olive oil (from Greece) and tomato passata (produced in Italy for Tesco). “They are specifically designed for the UK market. They have a very British flavor,” says Elliott. Nevertheless Tesco has also taken into consideration the ever changing tastes of an increasingly multicultural market. Tesco products are now also in Hungary, India, Ireland, Poland, the Czech Republic, Malaysia, Slovakia and Turkey.
After the cake-cutting ceremony during the recent launch in SM Aura, I browsed around the supermarket to see these Tesco products myself. People who love to cook will be pleased to know that with Tesco products now in SM, they have a wider range of choices. Dijon mustard, for instance, is available not just with white wine in the mixture, but also as just plain Dijon mustard (P129.50), an ingredient many recipes call for (and which was not easy to find in the days before Tesco came to town). There’s a general purpose olive oil, to be used for everyday cooking (P287 per 500-ml bottle). Tartare sauce (“tasted and approved by customers,” says the label) comes in 165-gram bottles and costs P89, good perhaps for six to eight servings with a meal of fish and chips.
And oh so many kinds of spices. Aside from staples like cayenne, garlic and chili, there are the more exotic kinds like cardamom (P147.50), vanilla pod (P177.50), and whole nutmeg (P187.50). Walnut oil (great on fish, meat and salads) is available in 250-ml bottles for P157.50.
For snacks: rich tea biscuits are P79.50 per pack; oaties and digestive biscuits are P99.50, milk chocolate malted milk biscuits P119.50, and chocolate spread P184.50. There are also jams, coffee and even flour with which to bake soft, airy scones like those served during the launch in SM Aura.
Looking at these attractively packaged Tesco products, I can understand why some customers have not only developed brand loyalty, but have also become emotionally attached to Tesco. The products conjure images of delicious, home-cooked dishes, of leisurely tea time, of comfort food prepared in the British tradition. For these loyal customers they will always have taste memories of family meals made with their favorite Tesco products bought in the neighborhood stores.