The Supermarket That's Eating Britain

2007, Economics  -   26 Comments
Ratings: 7.71/10 from 14 users.

The Supermarket That's Eating BritainTesco is Britain's favorite supermarket. With 2,000 stores and 15 million customers a week, it's almost twice as big as its nearest rival. Dispatches shows how Tesco could soon become even bigger, and asks if this retail giant is abusing its power.

In The Supermarket That's Eating Britain, Ben Laurance pieces together evidence that reveals the true potential of Tesco's expansion plans. In two thirds of Britain, Tesco is already the dominant supermarket.

Dispatches' information shows how that dominance could become even greater. The programme examines the ways in which Tesco avoids paying tens of millions of pounds in tax by exploiting legal loopholes and using complex networks of companies and partnerships here and overseas.

And Dispatches chronicles the links Tesco has forged with New Labour: the programme examines how Tesco has used its connections to exert influence both at Westminster and with local councilors.

The Supermarket That's Eating Britain hears how: councils feel bullied; MPs complain about being put under pressure; and Tesco uses its financial clout to keep its competitors at bay. (Excerpt from

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26 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Jolka

    That movie is from 2007. Remember when watching or commenting. All it is about slavery and buisness. The explanation that all big make this is so STUPID. People, wake up! It is a slavery, world polution, you are loosing freedeom. Facebook? Walmart? Choice? Power? Are you blind? Can not you interpret these simple patterns? They are already controlling you! When did you drink a fresh water from commming the soil? When did you eat apple from the tree instead of washing it from pesticides etc? How may people you know are under cancer controll dying? Do you want more? If yes, go, say yes to corporation, just keep quiet, and one day you will get a bill for a rain water you use in your garden. The biggest problem of the present humanity is that they do not study, education was reduced. They have no idea about history and science and freedom. Every day you can hear: i don;'t care, it's not my busieness. Do you know morgellones disease? Does it have to knock to you door to wake you up?????

  2. Jolka

    How can I watch this video? I need to watch it. Help please

  3. Grant Butler

    I like Tesco, it's the cheapest place to shop.

    1. Alexander Jay

      Tesco? The cheapest place to shop! Maybe if you buy all Value items... but if you want quality goods its not the cheapest in the slightest

  4. classifiedindian

    The question i would like to ask is how is Walmart different from Tesco? Why is there a hue and cry only about Walmart if all these giant retailers function in the same manner?

  5. Jo McKay

    Wow, I thought the Brits were smarter than we have been, and better at regulating monopolies. More people understand now what happens when a business gets 'too big to fail', they in essence control your community governments, but in case of grocery stores - what happens to your food supply?? - (Feed lot chickens & meat) - out of dozens of varieties of strawberries, only one is grown, etc. how vulnerable does the food become when whole species/varieties are no longer grown because the food system is industrialised to satisfy the preference (not of the customer) but of these mega-shops and the convenience of their distribution networks and their bottom line- BIG PROFIT FIRST ALWAYS!

    1. Ant

      We are better at it, which is why many people refuse to shop there and there are documentaries on national TV about it. Awareness is half the battle to be honest.

    2. johnnyontube .

      Well we adopted alot of the board room strategies first established in America, so in a lot of these monopolies we are pretty much the same. If you go back to the banks in London few decades ago, one of the banks, possibly the bank of England, had recruited a american executive and all the other english banks had to adopt the same policies because they were unable to compete with this new ideology. I have a terrible memory lol but I sort of get the gist of how it all happened. So I think instead of Britain and America only uniting when it comes to war we need to unite in order to remove this incredibly destructive domineering acts.

  6. hpthoroughbreds

    i havent' watched this yet but intend to right now. always like to read some commentary before hand to get a gist of the doc. am from the us. we all thought that having a mc'donalds was the best thing that our small town ever got about 40 years ago. what the $#@% did we know? just bumpkins really. eventually came the "developers" , the need for a larger sewer system, 4 lane roads , larger fire, police, schools, etc... etc... a bucolic little town on the shores of lake erie.. population around 10,000.. now part of the megatropolis that ranges through what was once basically a string of "mayberry's".. i certainly understand a need to move forward... but please be very careful.. the things your community and humanity in general give up in exchange are very rarely worth the total cost in the final analysis. we now have industrial farming, obliteration of one of the finest examples of a working class of peoples, exportation by corporations of our livelihoods, and a complete collapse of a representative government (of the people, by the people, for the people) trust me.. just because something looks big and shiny and new and seems to serve every purpose you could hope for please go running into the streets and cry out to any and everyone to look deeper. MUCH DEEPER. trust me. they're not there to serve you. in a very sort time you will become the servant. at least in some part of history servants had a roof over their heads.... anybody out there in the world getting the message that the citizens here in the us are getting pretty close to homeless??? tanks, hpt

  7. smugg

    Massive Shoplifting raids is the answer

  8. cezy

    I haven't heard anything bad about the quality of tesco's products, like GM food, pesticides etc. and I am sure that there must be a lo to reveal... The whole program is focused on potential monopoly power, aggressive marketing and tax evasion, which are characteristics found in any corporation. This is by no mean a justification, but as an attack, I find it rather weak.
    What I really liked was the brilliant example of direct democracy given by the welsh local community.

  9. Justin_Funski

    Sounds like Tesco is Walmart's cousin.

    1. Morsie

      Yes, but there is a difference between Walmart & Tesco's, and that is Walmart shoppers have great taste in clothes ;D

    2. Declan Niko Harty

      And what good comes out of having a great taste in cloths, how you going to cure cancer with that one buddy:)

    3. Soufyan Bencaid

      We don't hav anything like that in Holland. :D

  10. web domain registration

    Nice to read something about Tesco. I am actually new to this place and topic. However, I love to read this article. Enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing the information with us.

    1. David T

      This is not an Article my friend, a Video doc is also embedded, if you r not in a hurry!

  11. antiloops

    I was working for a Tesco supplier in UK manly our job was with pork meat and believe people have no idea what they are eating.

  12. Arnold Vinette

    Although I have never been to a Tesco living in North America, this chain sounds like a mix of Costco Wholesale, Target and Wal-Mart. I watched a few minutes of this program and honestly could not see what they were doing wrong. Data tracking is widely available in the United States and Canada, Facebook, cell phones, credit cards etc. Reward programs are simply a normal part of business.

    People just have to get used to the fact that their lives are not private anymore. Everything they do is tracked. If a store wants to use this information to make better products and services available then why not.

    People and politicians need to work with these companies for their benefit rather than to fight them. Inevitably the future of retailing will change again and a new form of Tesco will be created.

    I had to laugh about the new Tesco store being bigger by 20%. Who cares! And then politicans wanting to keep the over 20% empty. Honestly does this make sense to anyone? And by the way how did the bigger store get past the building inspectors?

    I am curious though how Tesco can create jobs in retail? Aren't these new jobs just coming at the expense of jobs somewhere else? I mean nothing is being created. People are just being asked to buy more stuff.

    If people are really concerned about their personal privacy though, simply create a false identity to live by. In this way who you really are is protected.

    If Tesco would like to create even more money in Britain through their stores, please contact me at the Facebook page: Ottawa Kids Artwork or Canadian Kids Artwork. I have a new concept that will generate millions of pounds of new profit for your stores, benefit Britain, benefit your local communities and the British government. Use your contacts in the British government to copy a project now underway in Canada and approved by the Canadian government.

    Tesco sounds to be doing a great job in retailing otherwise they would not be so successful. However in the end all businesses evolve and change. Tesco will not last forever, so just enjoy it while it is successful.

    Arnold Vinette
    Ottawa, Canada

  13. Freddie

    I see Tesco as being very smart and using that for competitive advantage.

    What are the other retailers doing whilst Tesco is growing? It looks to me like there is great potential for growth and Tesco seems to be the only one taking advantage of it strategically whilst everyone else is sitting and complaining about how big they are getting.

    They did not start out as being the largest so what happened to the former largest?

    About the tax 'evasion' - Once again, they are smart. If the government cannot tie up these loopholes why shouldn't they take advantage of them? The documentary repeated confirmed that these acts are not illegal. If they have done wrong then shouldn't they be prosecuted and then sentenced and fined? The government should do their job, tie up those loopholes and quit complaining.

    On the marketing for causes: Let's take the computer for schools program. Which other retailer has done as much or is even pretending to? There is a saying that in the country of the blind, the one eyed man is king. Tesco is not perfect but at least they are contributing and using the noise of that contribution to their advantage. it could have been worse. They do not need to contribute anything and I'm sure off the tops of our heads we could count a few companies doing just that!

    Ahhhh...I just wanted to say..give them a break..they're using their smarts!

  14. George

    Give me a break. These people just can't stand competition and want monopoly for the services they provide. Well guess what, people will go where they get better service. If I get better service at Tesco, I will go there. But these radicals want prevent successful businesses from growing and providing the services that people need and want. Typical government control. And there is nothing wrong about collecting customer data. Virtually every business that has computer systems collects and analyzes business information.

  15. jean-francois

    to Charles Peden
    no, the issue is really the fact that those buisness will soon have complete monopoly in their field of activities and that were the problems starts because once they "kill" all competition there NO need to keep "low prices", people have to buy from them because theyre all thats left

    and thats only one example
    see simon's coment for more

  16. Simon

    @Charles Peden

    Watching the first 30mnutes of the documentary, I see your point, a lot of the things they mentioned, Expansion, soliciting and employing politicians, these are all conventional business processes.

    Moving onto the other aspects,
    Tax Evasion = stealng from the government and the people, by making use of the advantages of the land, and not putting anything back, for a company as large as that, it's fiendish greed.

    Marketting for Causes; this bothered me, posing as a socially responsible, We care about your children corporate institution, while looking at the details the amount we have to pay, for them to throw out a £5 football, is highly deceptve.

    Social Irresponsibility; Building supermarkets in residential areas, without care for the impact it has on the people is bullyingly attrocious.

    It's not only what it does, it that it does it on such a large scale while posing as a squaky clean, friend of the community organisation.

  17. andy

    they only get to be so large through town planners refusing permission for opposition to open businesses in nearby proximity and forces small business to pay exorbitant rates at mega malls and such longer is the mom and pop corner store allowed to operate or open therby reduceing competition to zero and allowing the giants to become monopolies. thank you zoning laws!!!!

  18. Charles Peden

    If I understand correctly, they are successful and therefore it isn't fair for the stores that cannot do as well. This documentary tries to shine a light on the underbelly of Tesco and it turns out to be kind of ordinary. It seems the employees of Tesco are working towards making it an efficient operation. Some of the employees probably are a bit zealous (absolutely no surprise and really is completely expected).

    If I were supposed to see Tesco as an evil organization, this documentary completely failed. Warren Buffett is right, looks like a great investment!

  19. Observer

    This case is pretty same with Wal-Mart case in US, where suddenly a giant turn into a monster.