We use them every day, but have you ever wondered what the words Tesco, Asda, Lidl and Aldi mean?
Tesco was founded in 1919 by a man from east London called Jack Cohen. He’d been born into an ordinary family and went on to serve in WWI as part of the Royal Flying Corps. At the end of the war, he used his demob money to set up a market stall in the East End. It was a success. In 1924, Jack bought a shipment of tea to sell on his stall from a supplier called T.E.Stockwell. And that’s when the Tesco name was born. Jack used his supplier’s initials (TES) along with the first two letters of his surname (CO) to create a brand name under which to sell the tea. Five years later, in 1929, the first Tesco store opened in Edgware. The rest is history.
Like Tesco, Asda’s name is actually two names spliced together. The Asquith family ran a butcher’s shop in Knottingley, West Yorkshire. In the 1920s, they started to expand and open up new butchers’ shops around town. Before long, they had seven of them. And in 1963, they bought an old cinema in Castleford and turned it into a supermarket. The cinema had been called Queen’s. The Asquiths thought that Queen’s would be a good name for their brand new supermarket, too. But after two years of trading as Queen’s, the Asquiths joined forces with Associated Dairies to form a new company. The new company name took the first two letters of Asquith and fused them with the first two letters of Dairies. ASDA. A giant was born.
Spar is a Dutch supermarket chain. Its name was originally DESPAR, which is an acronym for a rather complicated Dutch-language phrase… Door Eendrachtig Samenwerken Profiteren Allen Regelmatig. And of course you know that means ‘Through united cooperation everyone profits’. As it happens, ‘spar’ itself is an actual Dutch word. It means ‘spruce tree’. Hence the little green spruce in the company’s logo.
Ocado is a British online supermarket. You won’t find a single branch on a high street. But Ocado delivery fans have become a familiar sight across the UK. The name has no meaning whatsoever. It was inspired by the word ‘avocado’ and is meant to make you think of fresh fruit, vegetables and anything wholesome.
The doors of the first Aldi store opened for business in the German town of Essen back in 1946. It was owned by brothers Karl and Theo, and at first it was called Albrecht Diskont. Albrecht was the brothers’ surname, and the word ‘diskont’ indicated shoppers were in for a bargain. Over time, the two words began to slide into each other. And in 1962, the brothers made it official and changed the company’s name to Aldi. Al for Albrecht and di for discount. Incidentally, opening a supermarket was a good move for Theo and Karl. They became the richest men in Germany.
Lidl was founded in 1930 by the Schwarz family in Neckarsulm, Germany. But back then, it wasn’t called Lidl. It was called Schwarz Lebensmittel-Sortimentsgroßhandlung. Snappy. (Not.) Schwarz Lebensmittel-Sortimentsgroßhandlung means Shwarz Foods Assortment Wholesale. But pretty soon, everyone was calling it Schwarz Markt (which means Schwarz Market). It made perfect sense for a supermarket owned by the Schwarz family to be called the Schwarz Market. Except for one thing. Schwarz in German means ‘black’. And Black Market isn’t a great name for a supermarket…well, one operating within the law, certainly. And so, in 1973, the Schwarz family decided to trade under the name of their business partner instead. That partner was one Ludwig Lidl.