Tesco PLC started as a grocery retail operation in England in 1919. However, it has grown into a multi-national corporation, and much of its growth has come through the acquisition of other companies. Acquisitions began in the 1950’s and have continued to the present, so Tesco owns a great many companies.

The original focus on groceries has become a diversified interest in clothing, books, furniture, toys, electronics, software, financial services and even gasoline. The company currently has a market capitalization of $14.64 billion. Revenues have hit $55 billion.

Tesco gives an interesting figure instead of how many companies it owns: it is responsible for 6,809 shops worldwide. Of course, each business operates many shops, so let’s look at the acquisitions to get an idea of how many companies Tesco owns. All information is current as of August 9, 2017.

A Timeline of Tesco Acquisitions

1957: The first acquisition occurred in 1957 when Tesco bought 70 Williamson’s stores. This included both shops and restaurants, where Tesco sold fresh meat.

1959: So came the purchase of 200 Harrow Stores in 1959.

1960: Tesco moved into northern England with the purchase of 212 Irwin’s stores, located in Liverpool.

1964: Tesco entered the self-service business when it bought 97 self-service locations from Charles Phillips stores. That same year, the company purchased Cadena, giving it 49 bakeries and cafes.

1965: Tesco acquired a Manchester company, Adsega, which owned 47 stores.

1968: The company bought the Victor Value chain in 1968, but subsequently sold it because it was losing money.

1980: Tesco took a break from acquisitions until 1980, when it bought Cartier stores in Kent.

1987: The company completed a hostile takeover of the Hilliards chain. This purchase involved 40 supermarkets in northern England.

1993: The acquisition of a French business called Catteau happened in 1993. This business operated supermarkets and convenience stores. These stores were later sold.

1994: Tesco invested in S-Market shops, located in Holland. That same year, Tesco took over William Low, a supermarket chain in Scotland.

1995: Tesco moved into Poland with the purchase of the Savia chain.

1996: The company bought some K-Mart stores in 1996 in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

1997: Tesco bought the retail division of Associated British Foods, which gave Tesco the Quinnsworth, Stewarts and Crazy Prices chains. These were located in Ireland.

2002: Tesco purchased HIT hypermarkets in Poland. This purchase involved 13 hypermarkets.

2003: Tesco moved into Japan when it purchased Kipa shops.

2004: Tesco acquired Adminstore, expanding its convenience-store presence in London.

2005: Tesco bought 21 Safeway/BP stores in 2005. It also bought 80% of Leader Price stores in Poland. These were supermarkets.

2008: Tesco went into the seed and gardening business when it acquired Dobbies Garden Centres. That same year, it purchased Homeplus.

2010: The acquisition of Dunnhumby, a retail consultancy, took place in 2010.

2012: Tesco bought Mobcast Services, a mobile book platform, in 2012.

2012: The company went into a partnership with Euphorium Bakery in 2012.

2013: Tesco acquired restaurants and cafes, when it purchased Giraffe in 2013.

2017: Tesco acquired the Booker Group, a food wholesaler.

Tesco-Branded Businesses

Tesco continues to expand its business interests through organic growth, in addition to the acquisitions. The company lists the businesses that it operates as:

  • Tesco UK
  • Tesco in India
  • Tesco Malaysia
  • Tesco Lotus
  • Tesco Czech Republic
  • Tesco Hungary
  • Tesco Ireland
  • Tesco Poland
  • Tesco Slovakia
  • Tesco China
  • Tesco Bank
  • Dunnhumby.

These businesses operate as Tesco brands, so they represent non-acquired companies.

The Bottom Line

The tally for acquisitions comes to 29. Many of the companies Tesco acquired were absorbed or rebranded as Tesco properties, so it would not be entirely accurate to say Tesco owns 29 companies it acquired.

What is accurate is to say that Tesco, in addition to its organic growth, has grown by acquiring 29 companies. This has occurred over a period of 60 years, and appears to be a method for going forward for Tesco even today. However, Tesco also operates 12 businesses in Asia and Europe under the Tesco brand. (See also: Who Are Tesco's Main Competitors?)