Tesco is one of the top three retailers in the world, with over 440,000 members of staff serving 30 million customers every week. We operate in 12 countries outside the UK, offering food, non-food and retailing services.
Our entire operation is built on listening and responding to what customers want. Customers told us they wanted to see more locally sourced products in stores as a way of contributing to the local economy and supporting local suppliers.
How the issue was tackled
In our 2006 Community Plan we made a long-term promise to stock more local lines than any other retailer, making local produce a mainstream part of our ranges in all stores.
We set up regional buying offices across the UK and in 2007 completed this network of eight regional offices with dedicated marketing and technical teams. These offices are well placed to support and work with the suppliers in their regions with a better understanding of their needs on a local level. Each office went looking for its region’s local foods and set about building relationships with new and existing suppliers.
Some suppliers thought that they were too small to be able to supply a company as big as Tesco. To tackle this perception, our buying and technical teams went on the road to meet suppliers at dedicated roadshows around the UK. These give smaller suppliers the opportunity to showcase their product and meet our buying teams. We encourage people to come even if they think their business is too small to supply Tesco. We also set up a fund to cover suppliers’ initial costs and help small suppliers expand.
A new Tesco regional sourcing website aims to promote regional foods and seeks dialogue both with customers and suppliers. This website informs customers about which new products will be on sale in their region and asks for feedback on which local products customers would like to see in stores in the future. The site also enables suppliers who would like to work with us to contact the appropriate Tesco teams via an online form.
Benefits and impacts
Tapping into customers’ desire to buy local products has driven innovation and created new sales opportunities - last year sales grew by 55% to almost £400 million. We launched more than 800 local products in 2007, which means our customers now have a choice of over 3,000 local products.
Marketing and technical teams from our network of eight regional buying offices met 500 potential suppliers at 15 roadshows last year, and are working with more than 100 new suppliers to develop products.
Advice to others
- Listen and respond to what your customers want.
- Share your knowledge and expertise to help smaller suppliers expand with you.
Tesco - Regional Sourcing
Tesco's corporate responsibility review 2008
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