Tesco founder blasted PM over ‘ridiculous’ restriction preventing lower prices

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Today, Tesco is the largest food retailer in the UK, dominating the market with a 27 percent share, alongside the other Big Four supermarkets of Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons. But things have changed dramatically over the last century since Sir Jack first set up his market store in Hackney selling surplus Army supplies. His business expanded rapidly, with more than 100 shops across the country by 1939 and in 1961 its new Leicester store became the largest supermarket in Europe.

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However, there was one thing in Sir Jack's way – the Resale Price Maintenance Bill – which meant the manufacturer and its distributors agreed that suppliers set the sale price.

The BBC’s ‘Pile It High, Sell It Cheap’ documentary revealed how “Jack wasn’t going to sit on his armchair” and so he “decided to go straight to the top and have a word with Ted Heath”.

And incredible archived footage of Sir Jack shows how things panned out during their conversation.

He stated: “I said to him [Sir Edward], ‘this is ridiculous’.

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Tesco's founder Sir Jack Cohen spoke to Sir Edward HeathTesco's founder Sir Jack Cohen spoke to Sir Edward Heath (Image: GETTY)

Sir Jack Cohen revolutionised the industrySir Jack Cohen revolutionised the industry (Image: GETTY)

“People that stock our supplies say ‘you can’t get this and you can’t get that’ and you have to go round the backdoor to get goods to a company like ours.

“He said he thought it would be a damn good idea if he put a bullet in it himself, and he did.

“After a long, hard struggle, it was accepted.

“I feel very happy that I was one of the originators or the originator of this.”

In 1964, the Resale Prices Act was passed, which now considers all resale price agreements to be against public interest unless proven otherwise.

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