A Tesco's supermarket in London
A Tesco's supermarket in London - 
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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Tesco is the British version of Wal-Mart. It's the fourth-largest retailer in the world based in the U.K. The company just reported higher-than-expected profits last year, more than $5 billion. Marketplace's Bob Moon says that puts Tesco in a strong position to carry out a well-planned attack on the U.S. market.

BOB MOON: He isn't exactly shouting, "The British are coming!" but that doesn't make Mike Griswold any less of a Paul Revere for retailers from 7-Eleven to Wal-Mart.

Griswold watches the industry for Boston-based AMR Research, and he's got a warning for Tesco's American rivals:

MIKE GRISWOLD: I think they're a very legitimate threat.

Tesco is about to open its first U.S. stores, starting in Arizona, Nevada and Southern California. It has said only that it'll be offering something that "doesn't exist in the market already."

The concept reportedly is based on high-quality convenience stores that have been successful in Britain. Griswold says there's reason to believe the concept can work here.

GRISWOLD: They had leadership from Tesco living in California for months, with U.S. consumers, understanding how we shop and what we buy. They've been very successful in the new markets they've entered. They do a lot of intelligence before they enter a market, and I'm sure they've done the same here in the States.

He says the size and number of distribution centers Tesco's building hints at plans to eventually expand to full-size supermarkets.

In Los Angeles, I'm Bob Moon for Marketplace.