First look and reaction to Tesco’s mammoth new store

Tesco is debuting a new Tesco Extra ‘shopping and leisure destination’, aiming to create a space where customers will ‘come to spend time and meet their friends and family’.

General Merchandise area bird's eye view
General Merchandise area bird’s eye view

The first concept of its kind, a  7,432 m2 store, officially opens in Watford on Monday, and will be one of Tesco’s largest UK stores.

The branch will feature a refreshed Tesco store, food concepts including Harris + Hoole, which was branded by SomeOne and features interiors designed by Path Design; Euphorium; The Bakery Project; Giraffe, which Tesco acquired in March this year, and a new F+F fashion concession.

Cook and Dine area
Cook and Dine area

Other concepts include a redesigned merchandise area focusing on Homeware and Cook and Dine, and a free-to-use community space holding classes such as yoga, baby gym and cookery classes.

Homewares section
Homewares section

The health and beauty department will offer beauty treatments and a nail bar, and other services offered include a Pharmacy, Opticians, health shop Nutri-Centre, and Click & Collect.

Technology area
Technology area

Chris Bush, Tesco UK managing director, says, ‘Watford represents a fundamental change in the way that people are doing their shopping. More and more of our customers are shopping for leisure; they want to browse for clothes, eat a meal or grab a cup of coffee, as well as do their weekly shop.

‘It offers us a glimpse into what stores of the future might look like and we’re really excited to be sharing that with our customers.’

What do retail experts think of the new store?

David Dalziel

‘The impressive new Tesco concept could be defined as a series of set pieces in a much-improved shell. The obvious headline-grabbers, the sub-branded cafe, bakery, restaurant and the improved fashion offer, are really important, but it will be interesting to see how the general enhancements  improve the customer experience and positively increase sales, which is the ultimate goal. Initial customer response on Twitter has been very, very positive. The total look feels warmer and more human than before, it’s amazing what a few timber slats can do to change your perception of a space. The ‘set pieces’ here would enhance many stores in the Tesco portfolio, roll-out could be fast and deep and the benefits could be significant. My personal concern is how Tesco will effect my local Euphorium Bakery and Giraffe, I won’t have that same warm feeling shopping and eating in those outlets anymore.’

David Dalziel, group creative director, Dalziel & Pow

Lewis Allen

‘There’s much to admire in this ambitious fusion of value and indulgence shopping. The brand collaborations that form this offer are particularly eye-catching and reflect a growing consumer demand for authentic experiences. Borrowing the authority of independent operators is a mature strategy for a brand that knows its core strength as a value grocery retailer. It’s a strategy that might unnerve some who perceive a Tesco brand that is assimilating independent and niche experiences into one collective big box. It will be interesting to see if Tesco go on to collaborate with a wider portfolio of independents and at a local level. The opportunity for Tesco will be to bring the many virtues of the Watford store to our high streets and neighbourhoods without fatally eroding their local diversity and texture.’

Lewis Allen, director of environments, Portland

Rodney Fitch

‘It’s good but not before time – it should have happened two years ago. Tesco are lucky the competition is even slower!’

Rodney Fitch, retail design consultant

Hide Comments (3)Show Comments (3)
  • Gina Lovett November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    This may be a well-designed and considered retail outlet, but the mega centre run by supermarkets – this is exactly why the UK’s high streets are dying. It is fatal for local diversity or personality. You just need to look at Margate or Nottingham with the highest vacancy rates and nearby supermarket centres.

    Once just a grocery store that complemented a diverse retail mix, the supermarket now has to be the epicentre of the universe. And planning law deems that these sorts of developments are good for a community? Free space to hold a yoga class? Yoga and Tesco in the same breath?

    The brand ‘collaborations’ – Tesco’s strategy of buying up independent chains like Harris + Poole and Giraffe – is indicative of how out of control our economic system is. Where does it stop?

    ‘It offers us a glimpse into what stores of the future might look like’. Let’s hope not. No matter how well designed, or how fabulous the brand collaborations, I don’t want to live in a standardised world where Tesco thinks it knows what’s best for a community.

  • A Batten November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    As I live just round the corner this is my local store, and for the most part the new store is awful!! The coffee shop & restaurant are both quite expensive, and the shelving looks more like it belongs in a utility shed than a supermarket – they are quite imposing. The ‘quick shop’ lunch area is convenient, the fresh produce areas are improved, as are the cosmetic and health sections, but all other areas feel like a great reduction in choice. The greatest improvement is the ability to self-scan as you shop, meaning you can get out of the horrible new shop quicker!

  • hate it November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Hate it

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