Tesco takeover

Tesco takeover

Organisation: The Times & The Sunday Times (London) (United Kingdom)

Publication Date: 04/10/2017

Size of team/newsroom:large


Tesco, the UK's biggest retailer, wants to take over Booker, a major wholesaler supplying thousands of small high street shops. The deal would give Tesco even greater dominance on Britain's high streets, raising concerns about competition. Our analysis informed the debate by showing that 635 Tesco stores are within 500 metres of a Booker-supplied store. Data visualisation demonstrated how some town centres are already inundated with Tesco stores, and the firm would control even more of Britain's high streets if the deal is allowed to go ahead. Reporting/data team: Alex Ralph, Tom Wills, Louis Goddard Interactive team: Peter Yeung, Sam Joiner

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

We used geospatial analysis to provide evidence raising the possibility that Tesco's takeover of Booker could create virtual monopolies on some high streets. The geospatial analysis generated our headline figure, but also was the basis for interactive maps, Google Street View images and print graphics that illustrated the issue. We also created an interactive postcode lookup, which allowed readers to see how the deal could affect their local shops. This sophisticated investigation was executed and published within seven days of the deal first being reported, allowing the Times to lead the public debate on this major story. The investigation was picked up by the trade press and a variation on our analysis is likely to be central to any official inquiry into the takeover deal.

Technologies used for this project:

We used web scraping of retailers' websites, combined with open data from Geolytix, to compile an up-to-date list of store locations. We then used PostGIS to conduct a geospatial analysis, involving LATERAL CROSS JOIN queries to rapidly calculate the distances between thousands of points. The findings were presented with CARTO, Google Street View and print graphics.

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