Heh... Tesco. They're nothing if not tenacious.
Many moons ago, while still at secondary school, I worked as a checkout operator (beep... beep... beep...) for a Scottish grocery chain called William Lows. Tesco bought Lows in 1994 for the princely sum of 257 million pounds. Since I worked in the "flagship" Edinburgh store, the transformation from one retailer to another was tremendously visible. From then until I hopped over the pond exactly ten years later, Tesco was a permanent (if somewhat mundane) fixture of my life.
The "Tesco Value" store brand (with its trademark white & blue striped labels) will always remind me of my student days in St. Andrews. One student I knew had literally plastered an entire wall of his room with Tesco Value Baked Bean labels. Very artistic, to be sure, but it scares me to think about the sheer amount of methane production that resulted from such conspicuous bean consumption...
Jumping forward, it only seems like yesterday I was popping into the Tesco Camberley store on my way home from work every couple of days to stock up on beer, bread, fruit and awesome prepared meals, the like of which I feared I'd never see again.
The Camberley store was enormous. You could buy all manner of random stuff there, including consumer electronics, stationery, clothing, plants, and, food. Extreme amounts of wonderfully varied food. Not long before I left the UK, they were installing self-service checkouts and modernizing to the chip-and-pin debit / credit card system. The bigger Tesco stores, in general, are well lit, technologically whizzy (there are LCD screens in most of the aisles, wasted on advertising), and carefully laid out to make you buy lots of stuff you don't actually need.
Anyway, every time I go to the (somewhat drab and depressing) Safeway store in San Francisco, I miss Tesco a little bit. So it was pretty cool to hear that Tesco are coming to the USA, the news of which provoked a flurry of excitement over on the BritishExpats.com USA forum when it was announced a year ago.
It looks like they're ramping up on the plans too, with the news that they plan to build a supply center with the worlds biggest solar roof in Riverside CA. It looks like even Warren Buffet thinks they're going to be successful.
One observation about supermarkets Stateside. It seems like the market is far less competitive compared to the UK. In the last ten years or so, the UK had enormous ongoing price wars between the major supermarket chains (Tesco, Asda [owned by Walmart], Sainsburys, and Morrisons [who took over the remaining Safeway stores in the UK]). It will be interesting to see if Tesco can succeed in the USA where others (notably Sainsburys) have failed, and maybe in the process spice things up a little bit.