Jack’s – Inspired or Insipid?

My first visit to Jack’s, Tesco’s alternative discount grocer, was the day after the new store in Middlewich opened. Here is the blow by blow account of my views.

Let’s start with the car park and entrance. I must say that there was ample parking, more than I would expect to get in a similar sized Aldi or Lidl, I liked the midi sized trollies too and although as a customer I am not keen on £1 deposit trollies, especially when there is only one return to position by the store, I was okay with this.

Jack's our story

The opening sampling offer in Jack’s was welcome, although as a vegetarian a little limited, but unlikely to be around for long so not too worried. I liked the “Jack’s, Our story”, a lot of the marketing has been driven towards a British first feel, it seems this is exemplified the battle faced with the discounters.

Jack’s Bakery

The Bakery at the front was well stocked and quality very good on tasting the products. The Jack’s lines were equitable to Tesco main-store scratch offer, the croissants (I had 3 !) were very good!

Jack's Bakery

The range was limited of course, but again nothing most of the customers seemed to be missing. Really simple operation, although slightly surprised the siting is a long way from any of the freezer back-ups. I think the counter offer was also not required, I’d be surprised if this survives iterations, take the cost out in capital and revenue for labour.

Produce, not a point of difference

Produce range was nicely positioned traditionally at the first real dept (after Bakery!) and was easy to shop and easy to replenish. I would say the quality was on par with the discounters and similarly priced. I doubt anybody would change shopping to Jacks or the discounters due to the produce offer either way.

The chilled offer was highly condensed and boiled down the most useful sku’s and the effort to edit the range here looks like time well spent. Again good pricing and a decent enough range not to have to shop elsewhere. Quality wise I had a stone-baked buffalo mozzarella pizza at £2.89, it was good, and no complaints from the family, they did not even notice.

The frozen offer was similarly conceived, whittled down to the core and the brand presentation through the packaging very clean, very simple, spot on.

Jack's own label

Jack’s own label needs to reflect the core of the retailer, I think that Jack’s has it about right on this across the store.

WIGIGs are the opportunity

It’s all been terribly positive so far, and then I turned into the seasonal section and the non-foods WIGIG deal area. I have always liked a true WIGIG, it makes customers feel they are getting a deal and speeds purchase decisions, the execution was also pretty good. The problem is the range selection for these areas are not great, fine with the Halloween stuff but the non-foods just did not add anything apart from some profit hikers.

The German discounters do this better in range selection, but poorer in execution. Jack’s needs to make this area a point of difference from the discounters rather than a meek “us too” offer. With so few stores the opportunity to do an amazing deal on food-related non-foods is there, just seems undercooked from the buying teams.

Productivity could work harder

Ambient grocery was much as expected, well-built range with good prices on both branded (very few) and own label product. I liked the slight nod to productivity in the pallet displays in run of beans and tomatoes, although the message is perhaps a little lost when you have more agency staff (RMS) replenishing than your own colleagues. This must change and I will revisit in 6 weeks and see where they are at with this then.

Checkout service was good and proper tills with customer space is a huge difference most customers will see from the discounters. Overall it is neither inspired (unless by the discounters) nor insipid, but providing they can make the productivity model work harder for them this could be a great move for Tesco and will catch on.