Tesco has suffered the biggest loss in high street history and the sixth worst loss for any UK company as the true scale of years of mismanagement was laid bare. Its chief executive, Dave Lewis, attempted to shock the supermarket’s heart back into a healthy rhythm by revealing a £6.4bn pre-tax loss but admitted the turnaround was far from complete.
A huge £7bn writedown on the business will be used as an attempt to draw a line in the sand, with the property portfolio’s value slashed, its international division shrunk and the costs of offloading loss-making parts and redundancy payments for 5,000 staff finally revealed. Mr Lewis said: “This patient is ok. The baseline is ok. Can it be better? Can it be healthy? Yes it can. Our job is to allow it to be healthier.
“There’s nothing critical in terms of its finances, liquidity is good. If it’s about vital signs; there are more people coming, buying more things in Tesco that previously, and that’s a pretty good vital sign. It’s the start though. We’ve got so much more to do and it’s about opportunities for us.”
The UK business made a £467m trading profit in the year to end of February, but this was all in the first half under the discredited old regime, with a £32m loss in the second half of the year, as Mr Lewis cut prices and attempted to win back customers and reshape the business.
Like-for-like sales dropped 3.6 per cent, at £44.6bn, with improvements in the final quarter. But the biggest issue was proving to the investors that the UK’s biggest supermarket still had a future and could recover from open heart surgery.
Like many shoppers I feel no affinity with, or loyalty to any supermarket as they have all spent the last decade screwing the customer for as much as they can get out of them. Hiking prices, reducing weight content of goods but not price, BOGOF bargains a that aren’t, half price offers on wine that are a con (if the Tesco wine buyer genuinely believes that some of the wine advertised as worth £10 but on offer at £5 is true he / she needs sacking!) fish counters with produce that looks as though it was caught several weeks ago, pre-packed fruit and vegetables forcing me to buy what the supermarket wants to sell rather than the amount I wish to buy (you are here to serve ME, not the other way around, I don’t need 125 different cereals to choose from, 25 would be quite sufficient, bread on sale that tastes nothing like bread (the baked in store we all know is a con).
But worst of all, like many other supermarkets, they have decided that customers would like to serve themselves and hence the massive increase in this facility. Just try checking beer or wine through this facility and see what an enjoyable experience you have.
Why not try something novel and put some MORE BLOODY STAFF on the checkouts and the shop floor, a lot of us prefer to be served by a human being and not a machine.
I raised this issue this morning with a staff member in the Huddersfield Tesco. She smiled at me and said “I agree with you, but there is a massive gap between management and staff at Tesco, no one listens to us. The store is depressing and needs a refurbishment and we need to stop getting rid of staff”
To quote that old management adage “if you want to know what the problem is and how to solve it, go and ask the front line staff” or as W. Edwards Demming once commented “management is 85% of the problem”
Tesco management are you listening?