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Learning English - Words in the News
20 April, 2007 - Published 11:12 GMT
Record sales growth for Tesco
Tesco supermarket

Britain's biggest retailer, the supermarket group Tesco, has announced record annual profits of more than 3.5 billion dollars - 13 % higher than the previous year. This report from Mark Gregory:

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A lot has been said about the massive influence of the US retail group Walmart. Tesco is a sort of British equivalent. A third of the groceries bought in Britain are purchased at Tesco stores. Its market share is the same as its next two biggest rivals combined.

Tesco's problem is it's almost reached the limits of how far it can expand in its home market. So, like other big retailers around the world, it's looking to grow overseas. It recently announced its first store opening in China using the Tesco brand name. It's setting up a grocery chain in the US focusing on sales of organically grown food, popular with wealthier shoppers. The company says it's now investing four times as much expanding abroad as opening stores in Britain.

All told Tesco now operates in 13 nations, with over three thousand stores, employing nearly half a million people. It faces claims that it uses its market power to squeeze the incomes of farmers and other suppliers - the claims are hotly denied. But in international terms Tesco is still a minnow - the world's fifth biggest retailer, with sales far below the industry's two giants: Walmart of America and France's Carrefour.

Mark Gregory, BBC

Listen to the words

massive influence
a very strong effect, a big impact

retail group
a network of supermarkets that sell goods to the general public, not for resale

food and household provisions

put together

expand in its home market
do more business (e.g., open new stores) in Britain

brand name
an identifying name or label that the public recognizes (e.g., Nescafe, Armani, etc.)

All told
when everything is considered

to squeeze the incomes
to reduce the amount of money earned through doing business

hotly denied
strongly stated to be untrue

a minnow
not very big compared to others (literally, a minnow is a small freshwater fish)

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