Testing Tesco's Reach

WITH A RISKY DIVE INTO THE TOUGH U.S. MARKET, THE TOP BRITISH GROCER HOPES TO REVERSE THE EUROPEAN CURSE

For years, European supermarkets have tried to crack the code of the American grocery industry. The lure--a juicy $600 billion market--is exceeded only by its peril--no other market is as cutthroat or has devoured so many players so relentlessly. Some, like J Sainsbury, bailed out after years of fruitless effort; others, like the French hypermarket chain Carrefour, lasted a nanosecond. Ahold, a Dutch company that owns the chain Stop & Shop, was bruised by an accounting scandal. Delhaize, the Belgian owner of Food Lion, holds on grimly as Wal-Mart makes chopped meat of the industry's profit margins.

So why would Tesco,...

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