Thursday 24 August 2023



by Dave Roberts

From the 18th October 2018 to 25th March 2022 Middlewich was one of thirteen towns and cities across Britain to take part in a short-lived retail experiment by Tesco, who were trying to counter the threat posed by the likes of Aldi and Lidl, the no-frills supermarkets.

Here you'll find our coverage of the end of what Middlewich people called 'Big Tesco' on the 18th August 2021. This Diary entry also includes a potted history of our town's first supermarket, from its earliest days as Gateway to the end of the 'Tesco era'.

There was a time when this giant retailer looked like it was going to make Middlewich into 'Tesco Town', with plans for a huge superstore encompassing the original Gateway supermarket, together with the land on the other side of Southway now being developed by McCarthy Stone and others. The story of the proposed 'Tesco Takeover', which may or may not have been scuppered by the building of the Morrison's supermarket ten years ago, together with  the expansion of nearby Lidl, can be found by following the following link:

For most people, the closure of 'Big Tesco' came out of the blue. It was a settled part of Middlewich life, along with the  smaller Tesco Express branches in Wheelock Street and Warmingham Lane which still serve the public. No one would ever have called it the best supermarket in the world, but it served Middlewich well within its limitations, and its staff were friendly and very efficient.

Then, suddenly, it was gone and Middlewich was left without one of its major supermarkets. 

Soon, rumours began to circulate that Tesco had something in mind for the Middlewich store and others in various parts of the country.

In fact plans had already been in the pipeline for a couple of years before the announcement was made, which at least explained why Tesco had decided to close an apparently successful supermarket in Middlewich.
The JACK'S logo, unveiled for the first time in October 2018

On the 18th October 2018 the new Middlewich Jack's store opened its doors for the first time.

Photo: Cheshire Live

The JACK'S Story

In the entrance lobby a large photo of Jack Cohen welcomed people to the store, accompanied by a brief explanation of what 'JACK'S' was all about.

'In 1919 Tesco founder Jack Cohen took his £30 demob money and sold surplus armed forces stock from his market stall in Hackney, East London.

Jack had an eye for a deal and an intuition for what his customers needed. His stall was famous for making affordable food available to everyone.

Today at Jack's his legacy lives on in great-tasting food at the lowest possible prices.

7 out of 10 JACK'S products are grown, reared or made in Britain
to bring you outstanding value'.

The last paragraph, incidentally, was an obvious attempt to appeal to those who had voted for Britain to leave the EU two years previously.


Party food and free gifts were the order of the day as Jack's went all out to win the hearts and minds of its former Tesco customers.

Jack's product lines were very simple and basic.

The simplicity of the choice offered by Jack's meant that there was plenty of space, enabling the store to have wide aisles.

Perhaps surprisingly for a discount supermarket Jack's had its own in-house bakery. Then again, Lidl in Chester Road has a similar facility.

The warehousing and unloading facilities for Jack's were as basic as the store itself, with trucks having to make the awkward turn from St Ann's Road to make deliveries. There appears to be no viable alternative to this as Home Bargains will be making deliveries in exactly the same way.

In its later years, Jack's was managed by Darren, a well-known local lad who enthusiastically supported the store's community initiatives. He was particularly interested in the activities we promoted through the short-lived Community Mayor project. Many of the staff at Jacks were local and they managed to preserve the 'community feel' that the store had inherited from the Tesco store which had preceded it. But they were fewer in number and were always rushed off their feet. Jack's had a policy of asking everyone to multitask, so there was little time for friendly chats with the customers. Somehow, though, they managed it.
Reactions to Jack's were mixed. Many people liked it and appreciated its convenience, friendliness and low prices.
Others, though, felt it was a little bit too 'no-frills' and had hoped for a better range of products.
Whatever Tesco's reasons for discontinuing this experiment in retailing, as with 'Big Tesco', the end came suddenly and it was announced that the store would close on the 25th March 2022.

JACK's IN 2022                              Photo: CHESHIRE LIVE


The Jack's sign in Queen Street, which replaced an earlier Tesco one. This area was once a part of Fountain Fields and the site of the sign is said to be where the water supply which gave Fountain Fields its name was situated.

Belated thanks to everyone who worked at Jack's for all your hard work in keeping the store going for four years. It obviously wasn't an easy thing to do and we're sure we speak for the people of the town when we tell you how much we appreciated your efforts.

One lasting legacy from Jack's might be the name of the local park. Its official name is, of course, Fountain Fields but during the Tesco era it was dubbed 'Tesco Park' by the children who played there and smoothly transitioned into 'Jack's Park' when the supermarket changed its name.
Somehow 'Home Bargains Park' doesn't sound right, so it might be that the name 'Jack's' will live on, if only for young children and their parents.

Although the Jack's stores are gone, the brand still exists. Tesco has adopted it for many of its 'own brand' goods, such as those formerly sold under the 'Happy Shopper' brand. For instance, you can buy 'Jack's' products, with that familiar red and white label, at the new Winsford Gateway Service Station on Road One in Winsford.

And now, we wait for the 23rd September 2023* when our supermarket, having undergone another transformation, re-opens as a branch of Home Bargains.


*Sources close to Home Bargains are telling us that the opening date has been brought forward to 16th September.

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