Eastward Ho! East meets West in the brands that can be found on Tesco shelves in Budapest, and the locals love it. Clive Beddall reports from the Hungarian capital The scene's familiar, but the location is not. It's 11am on a crisp autumn Saturday, and hundreds of customers are thronging the aisles at one of Tesco's most profitable overseas outposts. As shoppers push trolleys across the crowded car park, the unsolicited commendation from a housewife loading groceries into the boot of a ubiquitous Trabant would have brought smiles to the faces of the chain's Cheshunt PR team. "I love Tesco," she beams. "They are bringing prosperity to our country." This is the Polus Centre, on the fringes of Budapest, scene of Tesco's first foray into Eastern Europe. In 1994 it bought the Global TH grocery chain, operating 28 stores across Hungary. Tesco has 49 Hungarian stores with the country leading the march towards CEO Terry Leahy's ambition of being a big name player in the global retailing super league. It's one of the largest British investors in Hungary. By the end of this year, it will have invested £242m in the country, employing around 7,500 people. Its local turnover rose last year to £216m, compared with £121m in 1998, and more than 75% of its top management is local. Commercial director Paul House says the mission is to be the best hypermarket retailer in Hungary. And that's an ambition which could soon be realised. The locals enjoy the formula ­ which to this eye is more reminiscent of a mix between Kwik Save and Tesco than the one so familiar in Britain. Half the brands on offer are local, but there's an increasing presence of own label, with 35% of the inventory being familiar names from this side of Europe. The non food offering is carefully crafted to cater for the mix of working families who populate the nearby high rise blocks, with everything from art prints to quality corduroy zip-up jackets at the sterling equivalent price of just £6. Twenty four hour, seven days a week shopping has been a recent successful experiment, with more than 10,000 customers at night ­ most between 10pm and midnight. As the Trabant driving housewife explained: "I'm a mother of two, so it's easier for me to shop after 11pm when the children are in bed and my husband is at home." Next on Tesco's agenda are two new hypermarkets ­ which prominent locals are already proclaiming will be a "welcome addition" to the Budapest retailing scene. {{MISCELLANEOUS }}