Britain’s biggest retailer, Tesco, has indicated a further departure from its once-grand global ambitions by beginning a review of its remaining Asian businesses, which could end in a sale of those Malaysian and Thai activities.
Celebrating its 100th anniversary, Tesco is five years into a UK-centered recovery program initiated by Chief Executive Dave Lewis after an accounting scandal capped a dramatic downturn in trading.
In October, Lewis declared Tesco’s turnaround complete and said he would depart next summer.
The retail giant said the evaluation was at an early stage and gave no details of the approaches received.
Tesco trades from 1,967 stores in Thailand and 74 in Malaysia. In the six months to August 24, the businesses collectively generated sales of 2.6 billion pounds ($3.3 billion), up 1% at constant trade rates, and an operating profit of 171 million pounds, up 42.3%.
However, under Lewis, the main target of investment has been the UK, spending almost 4 billion pounds on the purchase of wholesaler Booker in 2018.
In 2015 Tesco bought its South Korean arm to a gaggle led by private equity agency MBK Partners for $6.1 billion. A year later, it sold its Kipa enterprise in Turkey to Migros, the nation’s largest supermarket chain.
Under its previous administration, Tesco made pricey exits from Japan, the U.S., and China.
If Tesco quits Malaysia and Thia, its only overseas operations, apart from Ireland, can be its loss-making central European unit, consisting of stores in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland.