The opening of a new Tesco usually means shelves full of groceries. But the opening of a Tesco Academy next year in Seoul, South Korea, will be yet another example of business schools supplying education to the big grocery chains as they expand overseas.
It is a welcome opportunity for schools that have been trying to attract corporate clients in a tough recession – and supermarkets are tough clients. They require business school partners to deliver programmes attuned to their needs while also being global in their approach.
Tesco is Britain’s largest supermarket and one of the leading global retailers, along with Walmart and Carrefour. Two-thirds of its floor space is overseas and South Korea is one of its biggest non-UK markets.
It is leaning increasingly on business schools as it expands, especially calling on Ashridge in the UK, Insead in France and Singapore, and Ceibs in China. “Business schools give us international perspective and understanding of different cultures,” says Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Tesco’s executive director for corporate affairs.
“Now that we’re operating in 14 significant overseas markets, and sourcing from many more, we need to help our people develop good cross-cultural understanding,” she says. “We’re trying to prepare them for the next decade.”
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