Tesco Tests in-Store Co-Working Space as Grocers Expand to Nonfood Categories


Tesco, the United Kingdom’s largest grocery chain, is really stretching the idea of the supermarket.

The grocer is running a pilot test of an initiative to bring a 3,800-square-foot flexible working space into a store in South London’s New Malden area in partnership with office space operator IWG, according to a report from The Guardian. Additionally, the space will be on the store’s upper mezzanine and will include 30 co-working spaces, 12 OpenDesks (a more private option), and a meeting room, per The Independent.

“We are pleased to be working with IWG to offer customers the chance to work more flexibly from their local Tesco,” Louise Goodland, head of strategic partnerships at Tesco, said in a statement. “We are always looking to serve our customers and communities better, and we will be interested to see how they respond to this new opportunity.”

This working area reportedly occupies space that used to be taken up by items that consumers no longer buy in brick-and-mortar stores — music and videos, for instance, and electrical items. It is unknown yet whether future such spaces are being planned, although The Guardian reported that it is “thought likely” that, if this location proves popular, the companies will expand their partnership.

“People don’t want to spend hours commuting every day and instead want to live and work in their local communities,” IWG Founder and CEO Mark Dixon said in a statement. “A Tesco Extra in a suburban location, in the middle of a vibrant local community, is the perfect location for flexible office space.”

The news comes as, across continents, grocers leverage their position to expand into additional nonfood categories. These businesses are in a unique position among retailers of getting shoppers in through the door on a regular basis, often multiple times per week, given that food is an everyday need.

By trying out new offerings targeting other parts of shoppers’ day-to-day routines, these supermarkets can build deeper relationships with their customers. PYMNTS research found that businesses that connect with consumers across more pillars of the connected economy — how they work, pay and are paid, shop, eat, bank, travel and have fun, connect with others, stay well and live — have the advantage in today’s competitive marketplace.

Read more: How Consumers Live in the Connected Economy

Take, for instance, supermarket chain Hy-Vee, which operates more than 280 stores across the Midwest. The grocer announced in September that it was partnering with exercise equipment brand Johnson Fitness & Wellness to feature fitness showrooms at select stores, wherein shoppers can try out treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes and other equipment.

See more: Hy-Vee Debuts Fitness Showrooms

The same month, Texas supermarket chain H-E-B, which operates hundreds of stores in Texas and Mexico, announced its partnership with retailer James Avery Artisan Jewelry to bring jewelry shops into its stores.

Read more: H-E-B Joins Store-in-a-Store Trend With New Jewelry Shop Partnership

With initiatives such as these, grocers extend their relationship with their shoppers beyond just their food purchasing routines, becoming a more integral part of customers’ lives.