Safeway Plc


As a part of my course in business study, I have to investigate various forms of business enterprise and write a detailed report on one medium size or large business. In this report I will be investigating and analysing the following aspects of my chosen case study, which is Safeway Plc, illustrating “Business at work”. Plc is a limited liability company. A company where the business owes it self.

  • Benefits and Constraints
  • Aims , objectives
  • Ways in how a business measures success
  • Functional areas and explain how they help business to meet objectives
  • Style and culture of the business
  • Use of ICT for internal and external communications of the business
  • How production process and quality assurance / control system helps to add value to business
  • Judgements on how successfully the business is meeting its objective
  • How the organisational structure, culture and management affects performance and operation to help meet objectives
  • Detailed analysis of the impact of ICT of the business
  • How organisational, culture and management interrelate in business
  • Impact of organisational, management and culture performance of business
  • Alternative approach to quality control or quality assurance and effects it could have on functions of the business and how it achieves its objective

My coursework will involve developing a detailed study of each of the above points that I have stated for Safeway Plc.

I also contacted various companies of my choice, including Asda, Tesco, Cadburys and also Ikea. I contacted all of the above companies by email and as I found this was a very quick way to receive a reply. Many of the above companies did reply back to me. From these I have chosen to investigate Safeway Plc because it was most helpful and most resourceful. I got information by post as well as email by this company as they sent me an annual report of 2003.

What I need to investigate

I need to examine Business objectives, Types of business, Organisational functions and structures, communication and Product quality & control.


Business objectives:

These include:

  • Making a profit
  • Surviving
  • Providing services to the community
  • Producing high quality products or offering high quality services
  • Developing a skilled workforce
  • Fulfilling charitable or non-profit objectives such as caring for the environment  

Types of business:

These include:

  • Sole trader
  • Partnership
  • Private limited company
  • Public limited company
  • Co-operative
  • Not for profit or a charity
  • Franchise

Organisational functions:

These include:


  • Production
  • Human Resources
  • Marketing
  • Administration
  • Research and development

Organisational structures:

These include:

  • Tall, flat and matrix
  • Hierarchical, centralised and decentralised


This includes:

  • Internal and external
  • Formal and informal
  • Upward and downward
  • Open and restricted

Production and quality

This includes:

  • Combining inputs to create a physical change
  • Combining inputs to create a service
  • Meeting customer requirements

Safeway Plc

Safeway is one of the top four food retailers in the United Kingdom. The other three are Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s.

Safeway is one of the leading grocery retailers in the UK, with annual sales of around £9 billion, 90,000 employees and nearly 480 stores nationwide. Their stores attract around 8 million shoppers every week. The type of my business is a public limited company.

Safeway is in the tertiary sector because it purchases wholesale goods and sells them as a retail store. Originally Safeway was a US owned company called Safeway Food Stores Ltd. The parent company was Safeway Inc of California. Their first UK store was opened in Bedford in 1962. Over the next two decades the company’s portfolio of stores rose to 133 and now it’s a lot more over 470.

Safeway seeks to attract shoppers to its upmarket stores by featuring loss-leader promotional sales; some stores also feature coffee shops, dry cleaning, pharmacies, and banks (through an alliance with Abbey National). Safeway and BP (formerly BP Amoco) have teamed up to open mini-market/gas station outlets, and a joint venture with Fitzwilton Plc operates 12 Safeway Stores in Northern Ireland.
The Safeway brand is an international one born in the USA with outlets in other parts of Europe.

This report deals especially with Safeway Plc here in the U.K. where the company trades as an autonomous unit.   (Quoted on the London Stock Exchange, in the FTSE 100). As mentioned earlier I contacted via e-mail many companies in my search for suitable material. I decided to choose Safeway Plc because I believe it to be the basis for an interesting case study.

The arrival of a new Chief Operating Officer Carlos Criado-Perez some two years ago resulted in a change of strategy, and has transformed Safeway from a “follower” to a dynamic leader in grocery retailing.

The business achieved steady growth until 1986 when it ranked as the 6th largest UK food retailer.

Today (13th of September) you can buy a share of Safeway for £2.90. According to the Times top 200 companies it is the 80th in the biggest company in the UK with a market capacity of – 2,914 million pounds. Today there are also more people visiting Safeway as it brings out an offer every week of snacks, drinks and types of food.

How can I classify Safeway in terms of its ownership?

What are the benefits and constraints of this form of ownership?

Safeway is a Public Limited Company (Plc). A Public Limited Company tends to be larger than a Private Limited Company. There are around 1.2 Million registered limited companies in the U.K., but only around 1 per cent of them are public limited companies. However, they give far more to national output and employ far more people than private limited companies. The shares of these companies can be bought and sold by the public on the stock exchange.

Shareholders enjoy the privilege of limited liability, which means they are only liable to meet the debts of the company only to the extent that thy have invested into the business.

To become a public limited company, a Statutory Declaration must be provided. This is a document, which states that the requirements of all the Company acts have been met. When the company has been issued with a Certification of Incorporation, it is common to publish a Prospectus. This is a document, which advertises the company to potential investors and invites them to buy shares. To become a Plc Safeway had to go through these legal formalities, which can be expensive. This is because of the following:

  • The company needs lawyers to ensure the prospectus is legally correct.
  • The company will have advertising expenses.
  • The shares have to be underwritten and a fee is paid to an underwriter who has to buy any unsold goods and shares.

Advantages of a being a PLC

In Public Limited Companies, all members have limited liability, the firm continues to trade if one of the owner’s dies and more power is enjoyed due to their larger size. Other advantages:

  • Money can be raised from the sales of shares and goods to the public
  • The size of the PLC’S can often dominate the market  
  • It becomes easier to raise finance, as finance institutions are willing to lend money to the PLC’S
  • Shareholders (owners) have limited liability
  • The shares can be freely and easily bought and sold
  • Able to continue trading even after the resignation or death of a member as the company has a separate legal identity of it own
  • The Companies Act provides a standard and convenient management structure for you to follow
Join now!
  • Able to gain tighter control of your company as you decide whom you issue shares to
  • Able to have greater success
  • People see share prices quoted in newspapers and seem to be more interested in them than an LTD

Disadvantages of being a PLC

  • Setting up cost can be very expensive some run over millions of pounds in some cases
  • Since anyone can buy the shares, it is possible for an outside interest to take control of the company (e.g. WalMart take over ASDA)
  • The size of the company means they are not able ...

This is a preview of the whole essay