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Tesco’s discount store sees feverish trade on opening day, but will the buzz keep shoppers away from Lidl and Aldi?

Miles Brignall

Heavy rain and winds did not deter bargain-hungry shoppers on the opening day of Tesco’s new discount chain, Jack’s, with long queues to enter the store and the car park overflowing.

At 10am on Thursday, the formal opening time, 150 people were waiting to enter the new supermarket in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire.

The store is Tesco’s attempt to fend off the German discounters Aldi and Lidl.

“There’s clearly not much to do on a rainy day in Chatteris; that’s why so many people are here,” said Robert, a local resident who said he had come down “to see what all the fuss was about”.

Tesco’s chief executive, Dave Lewis, has pledged that Jack’s will be the “cheapest in town”. While a typical large Tesco supermarket sells more than 25,000 products, Jack’s will stock only 2,600 – about the same as Aldi and Lidl. About 80% of the food on the shelves will be sourced from the UK.
Sampling the ‘fresh five’ fruit and vegetables.

AD56F60F-126E-4CFD-8F74-87B6BDB87851-46846-000017D23E0D0B05Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

Lewis said the group planned to open 10-15 Jack’s stores over the next six months. The next shop will open in Immingham in Lincolnshire.

 

Tesco has not yet confirmed other locations, but according to the Grocer magazine shop assistants are being hired for further outlets in Rubery, south-west Birmingham, St Helen’s, Castle Bromwich, Edge Hill in Liverpool and Middlewich, Cheshire.

About half will be converted Tesco outlets, while others will be next to existing Tesco stores and some on new sites. Tesco has hired the former Aldi executive Lawrence Harvey to run Jack’s.
The new chain is a bid to win back shoppers lost to the discounters, who now account for more than £13 out of every £100 spent in UK supermarkets – twice as much as five years ago.

By 10:30am it was all but impossible to get into the store car park with shoppers leaving their cars on verges in their eagerness to sample the new shop.

Customers were offered a glass of prosecco or orange juice and a cupcake as they entered plus a free Jack’s bag and other goodies. Vans with illuminated signs, parked at each end of the fenland town’s bypass signposted its arrival.

Those who had braved the weather were certainly in the mood to shop. The Aldi-style fresh bakery was doing brisk business, with 50p baguettes flying off the shelves, along with croissants and brownies.

Large numbers of staff wearing bright nametags were on hand to help shoppers find items.Platform38 logo

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