Just Say Lotus: Malaysia Bids a Fond Farewell to Tesco

Tesco is now officially Lotus's | Image Credit: The Malaysian Reserve
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The new ownership and branding change officially takes effect today, April 1.

A couple of months back, it was announced that Tesco would soon no longer be a thing in Malaysia, its stores having been sold to Thailand’s Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group.

Much like the shift from Jusco to AEON caused a fair bit of consumer despair a few years back (and the complete disappearance of Carrefour, lest we forget, as AEON swallowed them up, too), the change from Tesco to Lotus’s has been met with decidedly mixed reactions.

Consumers, as it turns out, are human beings, and we’re not always the best at dealing with change.

But this particular change is out of our hands, and is here whether we like it or not, so let’s answer a few pressing questions. First, we need to talk about that bizarre new name. Similar to the name “AEON” being met with widespread confusion (Æ is a ligature in ÆON’s official spelling, and thus, it’s pronounced ‘EE-on’, not ‘AY-on’), the name “Lotus’s” has also baffled the masses.

Is it possessive? Does the store belong to a lotus? Is it pronounced “lotuses”? What’s going on here?!

The new store in Kepong | Image Credit: TRP

Actually, it’s just plain “lotus.” The bit at the end is not meant to be pronounced, which we suppose is why it’s rendered in a different colour. But you just know loads of people are going to be pronouncing it “lotuses” – just like they’re still going to “AY-on” to shop.

Lotus’s Malaysia President Kenneth Chuah explained to the media that the final ‘s’ is supposed to be silent, and is there to represent the company’s ‘SMART values’ – an acronym that apparently means:

  • S is for Simple: “We simplify the experience for our customers.”
  • M is for Motivated: “We try to always be one step ahead in anticipating our customer’s needs.”
  • A is for Agile: “We act and adapt fast to changing needs and trends”
  • R is for Responsible: “We are always professional and ethical in everything that we do”
  • T is for Transformative: “We innovate to help our customers to enjoy better lives”

The apostrophe, meanwhile, is actually meant to be representative of a GPS location drop pin, suggesting that customers can just come to this location for all their retail needs and wants.

See? It’s just ‘Lotus’ | Image Credit: Comcon Group

It’s admittedly a pretty questionable branding strategy to intentionally make your company’s name confusing to say (or to lead customers to pronounce it wrongly), and it seems odd to have to devote paragraphs of text to explaining it, but hey, we aren’t corporate branding experts, so we’ll just go with it.

In the US, retail titan Walmart went through a very similar bit of drama and confusion back in 2008 when they changed the way their company name (and logo) was rendered – shifting from Wal-Mart to Walmart* – and they seem to be doing pretty well for themselves, so maybe Lotus… er, Lotus’s is onto something.

See the difference? The company spent weeks trying to explain it in 2008 | Image Credit: Pinterest

So once you’ve moved on beyond the trauma of the silent ‘s’ and the apostrophe that’s not an apostrophe, what other changes are you going to have to deal with? Well, for starters, Tesco isn’t just a name on the store’s entrance. It’s on a LOT of products inside, too.

As for those numerous Tesco-branded products that so many shoppers like, we’ve been told they will largely just see their packaging rebranded to Lotus’s, though the items themselves won’t change.

That’s reassuring for many people, because we’ve heard of shoppers specifically going to Tesco (even though it’s not their usual grocery store) to buy these particular store-branded goods. So hopefully, your favourites will still be around, just in new packaging.

We like these, too! | Image Credit: Penang Foodie

Of course, shoppers will likely see the same products bearing both Tesco and Lotus’s names side by side for a while as older stock gets sold off. As for the specialty Tesco products which are imported from the UK (rather than being manufactured locally and packaged with store branding), Kenneth explained that Lotus’s will be partnering with Tesco to continue bringing those imported goods to Malaysia.

If you’re active with Tesco’s ClubCard, you can also breathe a sigh of relief, as Kenneth said the points and values would all be transferred over to Lotus’s loyalty card programme.

But while some things will remain largely the same, it’s safe to say having a new brand and a new parent company makes some changes – and additions – unavoidable. One thing we’ve heard that will be added are CP’s line of ready-to-eat meals from affiliated company CP Foods. These varieties are likely to be a hit in Malaysia, and include choices such as Korean Fried Chicken, Korean Popcorn (we assume this is chicken), Tom Yum Jumbo Popcorn (this one, too), Spicy Drumette, Tom Yum Shrimp Wonton, Marinated Chicken Black Pepper, and Marinated Chicken BBQ.

It’s a bit sad to see such a beloved and longstanding brand like Tesco disappear from Malaysia’s retail scene, but as we all know, the only constant in life is change. So, with that, it’s farewell to Tesco and selamat datang to Lotuses, er… Lotus’sss, hmm…, Lotuss’… wait… Lotus.

Bye, Tesco! You’ll live on in our memories! | Image Credit: The Star

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