Tesco’s rapid growth and surpassing of competitors like Marks and Spencer’s and Sainsbury’s can be attributed to the utilization of big data. In a 2012 interview with The Economist, Terry Leahy highlighted how Tesco, initially ranked third among English retailers in 1997, managed to enhance its value by 5-6 times by 2010. According to Leahy, the inspiration for this concept came from a co-op in Manchester that had a simple membership scheme; however, Tesco was able to implement it effectively due to advancements in technology that enabled handling and interpretation of vast amounts of collected data.
The Tesco club card was developed to uncover both customers’ shopping habits at Tesco and their spending patterns in other industries. This big data proved to be more insightful than traditional market research, as it revealed discrepancs between what people claimed in surveys and what they actually purchased using their Tesco club cards. Additionally, this valuable data served as a guide for expanding into non-food sectors like banking, insurance, and clothing.
In the UK, Walmart took a proactive approach by 1998 while Tesco was making progress against its domestic competitors. However, there were concerns about an American retailer gaining a significant market share. To maintain and expand their presence locally and globally, Tesco understood the importance of defensive and offensive tactics. This investment strategy not only provided a framework for growth but also boosted morale among stakeholders in the face of intense competition both at home and abroad. Despite being a UK leader with £3 billion in profits, Tesco’s contribution to global GDP was only around 2-3%.
Terry Leahy stated that international expansion and accessing world markets were crucial for growth. When studying Tesco’s globalization strategy, Yip 1992 offers the most commonly used framework for assessing the level and potential of industry and market globalization. Yip’s research indicates that there are four categories of drivers (market, cost, government, and competitive) that need analysis in order to determine the degree of globalisation within an industry. The strength of these drivers varies across industries and markets.
We will examine four categories of drivers for Tesco’s market entries and assess where the company has made successful evaluations and acted with informed execution. We will also analyze the markets where Tesco is struggling due to ill-informed strategic execution. Using Porter’s five forces framework, we will synthesize our evaluation. We can observe instances of Tesco’s opportunistic market entry, where the company effectively analyzes and capitalizes on market opportunities, such as its expansion in Central Europe and Asia.
There was a rapid liberalization of previous retail restrictions in central Europe and east Asia. In east Asia, Tesco took advantage of the opportunity to buy up struggling retailers that were affected by the Asian economic crisis of 1997/98. Over a span of 10 years, Tesco opened 1047 stores in South Korea, which accounted for 33% of their global operating space (Lowe and Wrigley 2010). On the other hand, Tesco’s entry into the U.S market did not align with their strategic vision despite thorough research. This led to unrest among investors and the possibility of losing 1 billion in investments, with the potential for exiting the market in 2013.
The cost driver is a significant factor to consider for international expansion, according to Yips (1992). Tesco, a financially strong company, took advantage of financially struggling retailers in Asia by acquiring major ownership stakes in lotus in Thailand and Homeplus in South Korea. At first, Tesco had a 73% stake in Thailand and 81% stake in South Korea. However, subsequent cash injections resulted in CP group losing its share entirely and Samsung’s share decreasing from 11% to 1%. Nevertheless, Tesco retained the Samsung name, which provided them with knowledge of the local business and regulatory conditions. The cost implications of expanding into the U.S. were significant.
The U.S strategy implemented by Tesco in 2008/2009 involved a significant investment of 1.2 billion over a span of 5 years. This investment accounted for over half of the total international capitalization during that period. Despite this heavy infrastructural investment, the store openings were slower than anticipated, resulting in only 130 underperforming stores being opened in 2009. Consequently, the expected results from such a substantial investment of 1.25 billion were not achieved. The high cost of this investment was mainly attributed to Tesco’s decision to construct its own processing plants near the Tesco distribution centre, which would handle the preparation of shelf-ready meats, poultry, fruits, and vegetables (source: Lowe & Wrigley, 2010).
The cost comparison between local supply and consumer behavior in suburban retailing has required a significant investment. However, the Tesco express model was not successful in southern California. This is because there is less footfall but higher volume/trolley spend compared to UK Tesco express stores, where there is high footfall but lower basket spend. Furthermore, the use of minimal staffing and self-checkout has led to dissatisfaction among customers and investors. These factors do not appeal to the suburban market space in the U.S.
Over the course of nearly five years, Fresh & Easy has encountered multiple challenges such as strategic shifts and revised benchmarks. These factors have caused uncertainty among investors regarding the company’s future performance. Furthermore, Fresh & Easy has experienced substantial losses, investing a total of 1.94 billion in its US operations. Moreover, the company’s failure to transparently disclose the costs linked to its US operations has left investors frustrated with a lack of clarity surrounding this risky endeavor. (CTW Investment Group, The Altitude Consultancy 107-111 Fleet Street London)
Government Tesco has a history of being quick to react to government restrictions and has recently shown a greater sense of responsibility in terms of its corporate citizenship. This includes creating neighborhood regeneration schemes in the U.S., as well as emphasizing the advantages of local employment and investment in new markets. In the UK, the restriction on land acquisition played a crucial role in the decision to develop smaller retail spaces in high footfall areas. This ability to adapt strategically has proven to be profitable for the company. Government-imposed restrictions on land acquisition and operating hours can greatly impact the profitability of both current and future markets.
The restriction on Sunday opening hours in 2012 had a significant impact on operating profits in South Korea, which is Tesco’s highest performing international market. It is essential to consider competitive forces, as explained by YIP (1992), when assessing the feasibility of international expansion. Tesco has demonstrated a keen understanding of competitive forces in some markets. However, it has taken a narrow approach in other markets, failing to recognize the risks associated with overinvesting in a mature market like the U.S. Tesco also faced challenges in its expansion efforts in Taiwan, leading to its exit and divestment strategy with Carrefour due to difficulties in acquiring land and Carrefour’s dominant market position.
The divestment and market exit involved asset swaps between Carrefour and Tesco. Carrefour gained 6 stores and 2 development sites in Taiwan, while Tesco gained 11 stores in Czech Republic and 4 in Slovenia. These strategic moves allowed both companies to strengthen their market positions and achieve increased market share, all while minimizing capital losses.
When analyzing the main components of international expansion as described by YIP (1992), it is evident that Tesco has experienced varying outcomes due to inconsistent evaluation and implementation of market entry. Research conducted by Rummelt (1991) indicates that a company’s selected strategies have a greater effect on business profitability compared to its competitive environment. In simpler words, it is the strategic measures taken within a specific operational context that have the most significant impact on profitability.
When comparing Tesco’s performance in Thailand and South Korea to that in Taiwan, there are multiple factors to consider. Tesco is a major multinational retailer globally and holds the title of being Britain’s largest retailer. However, it falls behind competitors like Wal-Mart and Carrefour. In its first wave of international expansion, Tesco effectively established stores throughout Europe and competed well against other multinational retailers such as Aldi, Metro, and A-hold. As a result, Tesco has displayed a strong ambition to further expand its operations.
With a large and increasing population, Tesco recognized a notable opportunity for growth and expansion in Asia. The company achieved great success in South Korea and Thailand, but their expansion into Taiwan proved to be a misjudgment. Tesco’s entry into Taiwan differed significantly from their strategies in Thailand and South Korea. We will examine key factors in evaluating the performance of Thailand, South Korea, and Taiwan and compare and contrast Tesco’s performance in areas such as Entry Strategy, Brand Management, and Politics/Economy.
Tesco’s entry into South Korea and Thailand was based on a joint venture as part of its modernization entry strategy. The company initially invested $350 million in Thailand and sought a platform for regional expansion and access to the Chinese market, which it found in Korea (Suh and Howard, 2008, p. 34). In 1998, Tesco entered Thailand and became the majority stakeholder in the retail company ‘CP group’ (Charoen Pokphand), holding a 75% share and operating under the name ‘Tesco-Lotus’.
Tesco entered South Korea in 1999, collaborating with Samsung Corporation to acquire 81% of its shares and establish Tesco Homeplus in Korea. This partnership was essential for Tesco’s expansion into Asia, as it enabled them to align with established and trusted companies in the region. The Asian market at that time was predominantly traditional but starting to transition towards modernization. Therefore, partnering with a company that understood the local environment and had achieved substantial success was crucial for Tesco.
In 2000, Tesco entered Taiwan with the intention of opening 22 stores. They believed that due to the establishment of liberalization in Taiwan several years prior, the market was already thriving and would be less complicated to enter. However, Tesco encountered challenges in finding a suitable local partner. As a result, they entered Taiwan through “de novo” expansion. Unbeknownst to them, many other global companies had already expanded into Taiwan and established themselves, making the market difficult to penetrate. This posed a problem for Tesco.
Thanks to their partnerships with retail companies, South Korea and Thailand were able to effectively combat competitors. Tesco-Lotus and Tesco Homeplus emerged as highly successful retailers in Asia, surpassing their rivals and causing many other retailers to exit the Asian market. This established Tesco as the dominant trader in the region. The entry strategies employed by South Korea and Thailand proved fruitful for Tesco’s expansion into Asia. However, the situation took a drastic turn in Taiwan.
Tesco entered Taiwan in 2000 through an expansion strategy called ‘de neuvo’. One of Tesco’s main rivals in Taiwan, Carrefour, had already been operating for some time and had become firmly established. Tesco struggled to compete with Carrefour’s reputation. Brand management has played a crucial role in Tesco’s success, as it has effectively marketed and managed the Tesco brand throughout its expansion. Two of the most prosperous chains that Tesco operates are Tesco-Lotus and Tesco Homeplus.
Tesco-Lotus obtains 97% of its products from Thailand, which gives shoppers a sense of security as they are aware of the origins of their purchases. Nevertheless, in 2011, Thailand faced its most severe floods in nearly seven decades. Tesco-Lotus actively participated in assisting the community by utilizing its stores as collection points for customers wishing to aid flood victims. Moreover, Tesco donated 500,000 essential items and offered assistance and refuge to its staff members (Tesco plc, 2012).
With the help of Tesco, the community surrounding Tesco stores received support and assistance in dealing with this experience. This action boosted Tesco’s morale and brand value. Tesco also implemented positive strategies to enhance their brand and promote a greener environment through responsibility programs. For example, they have planted over 7 million trees in National Parks as part of their tree planting initiative (Tesco plc, 2012). Additionally, the “Get active with Tesco Lotus” program attracts people to engage in various activities, including sponsored walks and football (Tesco plc, 2012).
Tesco-Lotus has created ‘zero carbon stores’ to promote an environmentally friendly image for the Tesco brand. In order to cater to the busy and hardworking Korean population, Tesco Homeplus introduced an innovative solution for commuters – the first ever virtual store in Korea. SH Lee, CEO of Tesco Homeplus, explains that the increasing popularity of smartphones in South Korea has made virtual grocery shopping more accessible and convenient than ever before (Tesco plc, 2012).
Tesco created the Homeplus app for customers to shop at a virtual store. These virtual stores were located at bus stops where people could scan the desired barcode and place their orders while waiting for the bus to work. Customers could then collect their shopping on their way back home or opt for delivery. This innovation by Tesco Homeplus has greatly benefited the people of South Korea, saving them a significant amount of time. As a result, over 1 million individuals now use the Homeplus app, giving Tesco Homeplus an advantage over its competitors and improving its brand image (Tesco plc, 2012).
The London Design Museum nominated Tesco’s innovative idea for best digital design (Tesco plc, 2012). However, in Taiwan, brand management was not established, resulting in no consumer relationship with the Taiwanese public.
- Tesco having no specific image that the Taiwanese consumer could relate to.
- Lack of distinction; was seen as no different to other hypermarkets.
- Tesco’s own brand comes across as ‘cheap’, ‘poor quality’ and wasn’t trusted.
- There was little brand reliance with Tesco.
- Negative perceptions of Tesco, which led to a serious lack of trust.
The UK and Taiwan had a stark contrast as Tesco was praised in the UK but lacked success in Taiwan. Unlike their UK counterpart, Tesco Taiwan did not prioritize local products and instead introduced unfamiliar goods to the Taiwanese market. Additionally, there was minimal advertising and branding efforts in Taiwan, resulting in a negative perception and an unclear brand image among the Taiwanese consumers (Chaoyang and Temperley, p24).
Although Tesco successfully implemented brand management strategies in South Korea and Thailand to establish itself as a well-known brand in these countries, the same cannot be said for Taiwan. The absence of brand management efforts in Taiwan resulted in a significant communication gap for Tesco in this market.
Tesco’s financial capability allowed them to provide the necessary funds and cash injections to finance these companies. Their expansion in Thailand and South Korea allowed them to quickly decrease the shares owned by the CP group and Samsung. Prior to the 1990s, Korea’s retail sector was a closed market that was not keeping up with the advancements in the country’s manufacturing industry (Suh and Howard, 2008, p. 29).
The retail industry in Korea started moving towards liberalization due to two main factors: the Korean government’s agreement to fully liberalize the market through the implementation of the GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services), and the economic crisis of 1997, which led to significant economic reforms. As a result, foreign retailers identified the potential for entering and expanding in the Korean market. This progress towards liberalization also attracted other retailers aiming to dominate the market in Korea.
Tesco encountered difficulties when trying to open stores in Asia. In South Korea, their opening hours were scrutinized and they were forced to close at least two Sundays a month. Additionally, they were prohibited from having 24-hour stores, so as to prioritize smaller traditional stores. In Thailand, the military council placed restrictions on the expansion plans of Tesco and other large retailers by halting the opening of new stores. To protect smaller businesses, new regulations and rules were implemented, as these smaller “mom and pop” stores were struggling and shutting down.
According to Schaffner et al. (2005), these stores have an average space of 10 m2 and employ fewer than two people. Due to the regulation of store opening hours, retail formats, and ‘below cost’ selling in Thailand, it was challenging to establish large hypermarkets. As a result, Tesco had to find an alternative approach by incorporating dense networks of small-format (express) convenience stores into its hypermarket framework (Lowe and Wrigley).
Tesco was attracted to the Taiwan market because competition was intensifying there before it had in South Korea or Thailand. Many of Tesco’s main rivals were already established in Taiwan, such as Carrefour. To offset increasing regulatory pressure, Tesco-Lotus and Tesco Homeplus worked closely with the local community, emphasizing the advantages of employment, infrastructure, training, and opportunity. Additionally, Tesco benefited from the fact that Taiwan had no restrictions on store opening hours.
In terms of expansion into Asia, Tesco-Lotus and Tesco Homeplus faced challenges but their experience in adapting the Hypermarket framework to smaller formats was beneficial. However, in Taiwan, Tesco felt less effort was required for expansion as the most desirable locations had already been developed by Carrefour. By taking a more laid-back approach, Tesco missed out on the opportunity to modernize the Asian market industry through the development of superstores.
The introduction of multi-national stores like Tesco signaled a shift towards modernity in Asia. However, this also led to a decline in independent traders as they faced tough competition from these large hypermarkets. Retail spaces dedicated to modern trade grew while independent shops dwindled. In Thailand, Tesco-Lotus emerged as the dominant player in the hypermarket industry. One reason for their success was their strategy of catering to the masses rather than targeting a specific class. Recognizing the significance of technology in society and everyday life, Tesco’s expansion into virtual stores will enable them to effectively meet market demand.
Tesco always seeks technological advancements to gain a competitive edge and improve customer service. Compared to other multinational companies, Tesco Taiwan lagged behind due to its reliance on basic technology. Additionally, inadequate advertising and brand development hindered Tesco Taiwan’s ability to compete with other hypermarkets, leading to its withdrawal in 2005. In contrast, Thailand and South Korea embraced virtual stores and large supermarkets, while Taiwan faced significant challenges. As a result, Tesco-Lotus has achieved remarkable success in Thailand with 782 stores and a workforce of over 38,500 employees.
Tesco-Lotus, a major retailer in Thailand, is also a leading retailer in Korea. Tesco Homeplus, their subsidiary in Korea, has 354 stores and employs over 23,000 people, making it the second largest retailer in the country. However, Tesco made the decision to exit the Taiwan market in 2005. Despite originally planning to open 22 stores, they only managed to open six before closing down.
Fortunately, Tesco was able to make some gains from their venture in Taiwan. They announced that Carrefour would acquire Tesco Taiwan’s six stores and two development sites. In return, Tesco received four stores from Carrefour in Slovakia and eleven stores in the Czech Republic.
Tesco’s success in Central Europe improved their position in that market. Now, let’s apply the criteria for success and failure in the Asian cases to Tesco’s entry into the United States as “Fresh & Easy Neighbourhood Markets”. The appointment of Terry Leahy as CEO in 1997 was a pivotal moment for Tesco’s strategic development. The UK sales and market were reaching a saturation point.
Tesco underwent a transformation in its domestic operations, transitioning from a traditional discount store that trailed behind Sainsbury to adopting a more adaptable and convenient store approach. The timing of this change was fortuitous, as it coincided with the economic downturn in Asia. This created an ideal opportunity for Tesco to enter the Asian market. By forming partnerships with Samsung and CP, Tesco gained access to local expertise, reassurance, and legitimacy. Moreover, the significant capital investment provided Tesco with a substantial advantage, enabling them to swiftly establish dominance in an economy facing financial constraints.
This foothold was never relinquished by Tesco, and their success in Taiwan has been significant. The experience in Taiwan mirrors that of the United States in many ways. Taiwan was essentially a market that had reached its maximum potential. The Tesco brand did not achieve real recognition or trust among the locals. Additionally, the absence of a local partner made it even more difficult for Tesco stores to thrive. Meanwhile, Carrefour held a dominant position that could not be toppled. Other challenges, such as complex land ownership issues, led to Tesco’s exit from the Taiwanese market in 2005. A macro assessment highlights the risks inherent in operating in foreign markets.
The risk of expanding into the external environment, especially internationally, is always present. This is particularly evident in Tesco’s venture into the US market. Extensive investigations and research were conducted for over a decade before deciding to proceed with the project. In February 2006, a CEO-selected team of managers was sent to Los Angeles for a year of intensive market research. This was built upon more than ten years of thorough investigation, with the intention to invest $1.25 billion over five years to enter the western USA.
Tesco took a long time to take the risk of expanding, possibly seeking an explanation from the World Economic Forum. While the USA was ranked 1st in 2007, when Tesco decided to enter, it is now ranked 7th in 2012. Evaluating the 12 pillars of competitiveness in relation to the USA would have been crucial in deciding to introduce Tesco/’fresh and easy’ to the USA. This year, the USA has fallen two more positions and is currently in 7th place, continuing its decline from a few years ago.
Despite its numerous advantageous structural factors that contribute to high productivity, the United States’ ranking has declined due to several growing and unresolved weaknesses. The country’s businesses are notably advanced and creative, benefiting from a strong collaboration between the excellent university system and the corporate sector in research and development (R&D). Additionally, the United States remains competitive due to its flexible labor markets and the immense opportunities provided by its vast domestic economy, which is significantly larger than any other worldwide.
On the other hand, certain weaknesses in specific areas have worsened compared to previous assessments. The business community remains critical of public and private institutions (41st). In particular, their trust in politicians is weak (54th), which is not unexpected given recent political disputes that could potentially lead to a recession through automatic spending cuts. Business leaders are also worried about the government’s ability to maintain a neutral and distant relationship with the private sector (59th), and believe that the government spends its resources inefficiently (76th).
A lack of macroeconomic stability remains the country’s biggest weakness (ranking 111th, down from 90th last year). However, there is some positive news as financial market development has improved, moving up from 31st two years ago to 16th this year. This improvement is attributed to the swift intervention that compelled the banking system to divest its toxic assets after the financial crisis. (Source: World Economic Forum/global competitive index website) The economic recession did not fully impact the USA in 2007.
Lehman brothers did not collapse until September 2008; however, the global recession caused by the downfall of the US Financial Services has had a significant impact on companies seeking external expansion. Unemployment rates, as well as interest and taxation rates, have risen in recent years, affecting millions of people globally. Disposable incomes have considerably decreased, leading to numerous bankruptcies among smaller companies across all industries. Although Tesco has also experienced a decline in sales volumes, its status as a market leader has shielded it from the full extent of the impact faced by smaller companies.
Tesco’s expansion strategy in the US market focused on creating a widespread network of smaller convenience stores supported by a streamlined food preparation and distribution system. Within a year of launching their first store, they successfully established 115 outlets and set up a distribution center spanning 675,000 square feet. This center had the capacity to cater to over 500 stores in Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada.
Despite the possibility of partnering with a local supermarket in the USA, Tesco chose not to take this route for a long time. Instead, they decided to venture on their own and introduced the successful ‘convenience’ model from the UK to the western coast of America through ‘Fresh and Easy Neighbourhood markets’. This approach enabled them to open stores in low-income areas in the USA without any constraints. Tesco exercised tight control over the variety and quantity of products they offered, emphasizing their ability to quickly respond to market demands.
Self-scanning machines were popular among a tech-savvy population, but the online and text messaging marketing campaigns did not produce desired results. The company also targeted low-income communities that lacked access to larger supermarkets, which was a logical approach. Although this tactic had some success, the company faced opposition from interest groups due to their non-unionized employment policy.
Overall, I believe that the brand’s vision and efforts to remain true to that vision were commendable. However, I think they missed the mark when it came to understanding the specific preferences of the US consumer within that vision. The food suppliers of Tesco demonstrated their commitment to the project by relocating their operations to California in order to better serve the market. From a micro-economic standpoint, it is evident that Tesco faced significantly different market conditions in the USA compared to Asia. As a result, their market entry strategy and approach had to be drastically different.
The decision not to partner with a local retail chain in the relatively mature market of the USA does not solely explain the lack of success. However, the timing of Tesco’s entry into the Asian market compared to the USA is clearly important. By entering Asia after an economic crash, Tesco gained some clear advantages. On the other hand, the effects of the crash had not yet been experienced in the USA at the time of market entry. This has resulted in Tesco still grappling with those effects in the USA to this day. The importance of local partnerships should also be considered.
Comparatively, cash injections and government aid had a greater impact in less developed Asian countries compared to the already prosperous west coast of America, which already had a well-established food and retail market. Thus, was Tesco simply unfortunate? Maybe their decision to delay entering the US market and not partnering with a local company has hindered their success. For almost a decade, they have deliberated on the optimal approach for their venture. Unfortunately, the conventional UK convenience store model has not proven effective in the USA.
The perceived gap in the market for affordable, fresh, and chilled meal products was one reason for attempting an assault on the USA. Retailers in the U.S. did not usually offer these types of foods. Tesco decided to fully embrace the concept by establishing the Riverside fresh food production plant in California. While it made sense to adopt and invest in the successful ‘timed response’ UK model, it appears that this approach did not work out. ‘Aldi’ and ‘Trader Joe’s’ have been shining examples of success with this model in the USA.
The success of both Fresh and Easy and Tesco has made it difficult for Wal-Mart to compete in certain urban markets, where resistance to their large supercenters has been encountered. The seriousness of the situation led to the departure of Chief Marketing Officer Simon Uwins in 2011, as Philip Clarke (new Tesco CEO) and Tim Mason (CEO of Fresh and Easy) took action. Unfortunately, the losses in 2012 were no better than in 2011, with international pre-tax profits falling by 12% to £1.66 billion in the six months leading up to August.
This marks the first decline in 18 years, although sales have increased by 1.6% to 32.3bn. Tesco’s decision to reintroduce the use of coupons signifies a departure from their initial approach when entering the US market. It raises the question of whether they are now competing on price (with coupons) or if they are introducing something new and unique to fill a gap in the market for convenient and packaged fresh food. Another deviation from the original plan is the introduction of 500 new grocery products/lines to ‘fresh and easy’ stores.
All this suggests that Tesco has acknowledged their misinterpretation of the market and their need to adjust their strategy. The recent revamp of the loyalty club card scheme seemed to be their last attempt to salvage the situation. However, the goal of breaking even by the end of 2012/13 has been abandoned. It is evident that Tesco made some mistakes in understanding the tastes and preferences of American customers. This miscalculation has resulted in significant financial losses, leading them to invest in expanding their grocery offerings and introducing in-store bakeries in approximately 100 stores.
Despite contradicting Tesco’s original model of going it alone and offering something different, their partnership with Fornaoi Bakery has been established. In 2011, Tim Mason, the USA CEO, announced losses of 574m and a capital expenditure of 800m. To make the stores more appealing and less clinical, efforts such as glass doors on chilled cabinets and increased wooden flooring have been implemented. Although the stores were considered “easy,” they did not have a “fresh” feeling, despite the investment in the Riverside food production plant in California.
Americans showed a preference for choosing their own fruits and vegetables instead of purchasing pre-packaged ones. Additionally, flowers were now placed at the front entrance of stores in an effort to create a more welcoming atmosphere. Terry Leahy’s plan to open 10,000 stores across America was still far from being realized. In 2012, Philip Clarke and his team managed to reduce the capital to sales ratio to 5% in the USA. However, the first half results announced in October 2012 were extremely poor. As a result, Philip Clarke decided that their focus should be on making their existing stores profitable and only op