For some time it has been apparent that Dave Lewis has been determined to address the ‘bloat’ in Tesco and cut back on all sorts of things. In the big picture out have gone most of the diversifications of the previous regime, replaced by a focus on the core business. The store portfolio has been hacked at the edges, though there remain concerns over the estate. Within the stores, the excessive range has been chopped back, with more to come. The result, and it seems to be working, is a sharper, leaner business providing more offer/value to the consumer.
It was announced a little while ago that in some stores the next target was to be the counter service offers. So the recent announcement in our local Stirling store (see photo) was not a total surprise. The closures and limited hours means a chunk of real estate in the store is not going to be used, but more importantly some consumers are going to be dissuaded from visiting. So, at what point does copying the competition and efficiency gains at all costs become a spiral of consumer dissatisfaction and behaviour change? Where is the tipping point for some consumers?
Stirling is not a hot-bed of quality butchers nor does it have a fishmonger, so the alternatives are a little limited (though Bridge of Allan and Dunblane are well served), but perhaps others, hopefully an independent, will fill the gaps. It is noticeable that at the Stirling Farmer’s Market the fishmonger does very well.
A photo update from 25th May – really, what are they trying to achieve here?
Efficiency was also the theme of the second story that caught my eye this week. At a time of national discussions of climate emergency and a fervour among many citizens and consumers about environmental matters large and small, Boots rolled out plastic bags for some prescriptions. This, at this of all times, is genuinely jaw dropping.
The explanation, such as it was, for such a change was that of handling and distribution efficiency. Plastic is better handled in central sites and lasts longer (yeah!). This may be true, but is utterly irrelevant when your consumer base is going in completely the opposite direction. How many people across the business were asleep at the wheel? This smacks of a business out of touch, with itself and the country.
And finally, talking of out of touch, it was proposed this week that a penny tax on all self-checkout transactions should be levied to ‘heal the generational divide caused by Brexit’. Where to begin? This is barking mad at so many levels. It fails tests of practicality, reasonableness, awareness, effectiveness amongst so many more. What are these people thinking and why are people so out of touch so close to “power”