Natalie Campbell takes Tesco to task… but not without offering some great ideas for its future
Britain’s biggest retailer might finally be showing signs of bouncing back after a disastrous year, but it’s got a long way to go if it wants to restore its former glory, as the founder of A Very Good Company explains…
Oh dear [bear emoji with eyes covered]. I want to make you a cup of tea and tell you all will be okay.
But first let me tell you where you went wrong.
Firstly, you got too cocky, literally and figuratively. I predict we had a yes-men situation where no one was willing or able to tell the men at the top that you can’t keep secrets hidden forever. I repeat, Enron, Lehman, and Arthur Andersen. You are never too big to fail.
In fact, the bigger you get, the more people want you to fail. Especially if you are a cocky so-and-so. That said, I bet Sainsbury’s et al are checking their skeletons and closets.
Secondly, you forgot why you are here. Your purpose is to serve your customers and give them the food, lifestyle supplies and products they want and need. Not to make money for your shareholders and beat your chest.
If you had held on to that principle, horse-meat would never have made its way into your supply chain (read: poor quality-control and the lure of cheap meat). Note to Dave, if it’s too cheap to be true and a food product, it’s probably synthetic or not actually what you think you are paying for.
Thirdly, you don’t need to have a presence on every millimetre of commuter roundabout and urban walkway. Creating community shops where the entire catalogue of products stocked originate in another country entirely, and the staff travel an hour into work, isn’t really a community shop. Stop trying to be something you never will be.
As a side point: If you open stores in urban conurbations and cut the price of TVs to £1.20, make sure you have west-end style security. Nothing else to add here. Rooky mistake. You created even more bad press for yourself and I bet it didn’t really help you in terms of the bottom line.
Here’s what I think you should do next:
1. Dave, I know you’ve already suspended or fired a fair few of your executives, and that was a good move. They knew what messed-up sh*t was happening and chose to look the other way. Probably because it was in their financial interest. But here’s a tip for rebuilding the board: get yourself some sharp women and people from a non-Anglo background. Basically, if they look like you, sound like you then you’re forming more yes men (although they’ll happily question your leadership after the fact…not mentioning any names Terry).
2. Say sorry to your supply chain and start afresh with UK based producers, farmers and manufacturers. The ‘Best of British’, if you like.
3. Set up a massive, cultural change programme that includes hiring lots of young people and offering apprenticeships. Local jobs for local people, type thing.
4. Put at least 15% of pre-tax profit into building a credible and long-term sustainability programme. Take your customers on the journey too. Everyone loves a bad boy trying to do right…especially us Brits. That’s why Nick Cotton and Phil Mitchell are so popular.
5. I know you’re not a person, but take a minute to meditate and remember what your core business is. Scale back to just that. It’s a bit like the Batman movies – he’s great and then he’s not. To recover he goes into the wilderness to regroup, and then comes back to kick ass. Superman too. (If I had a female super hero to add, I would. But I don’t, unfortunately.)
6. Lastly, hire me. Sure, I’ve never run a supermarket but, Dave, I’d help you give it a bloody good shot. Fixing the problems is not rocket science, it’s a case of being honest with the failings that got you to where you are now.
Natalie Campbell is the founder of A Very Good Company, Author of Starting A Business in 7 Simple Steps, and a trustee of UnLtd
The latest on Tesco’s woes…
MORE Tesco fiascos: Now it’s being investigated for alleged supplier mistreatment