UK: Tesco chief sees value as key to recovery
Retailers should focus on value for money to attract and retain customers if they want to survive and prosper beyond the recession, Sir Terry Leahy, the chief executive of Britain's biggest supermarket chain Tesco said yesterday (11 June).
Speaking at a conference organised by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) in London, Sir Terry said: "In hard times consumers want proof that businesses are battling for them. That doesn't mean simply cutting prices - it means delivering value.
"Retailers who do their best to help consumers will be rewarded with loyalty, not just today but when recovery comes.
"It won't be easy, it will be hard work and it will demand change. But our industry has survived recessions before and we will survive this one too."
Tesco, which is also the UK's second largest clothing retailer with labels such as Florence & Fred and Cherokee, has already taken the lead by cutting prices of over 700 key clothing lines.
Bargains include men's suits for GBP25 (US$41), ladies' suits for GBP15, and men's T-shirts for GBP4 - and even a complete school uniform for just GBP3.75.
Leahy defined value as "premium quality at a better price" and said shoppers are bargain hunting more to get that quality.
He added that while the situation in the high street is "very fluid at the moment, confidence is slowly seeping back" - and that retailers should prepare themselves now for the eventual recovery.
When that happens, issues like climate change, a rising population, the pressure on natural resources and the ageing population will come to the fore again.
"We need to keep an eagle eye on these trends, which will change not just the retail sector and how we operate, but what consumers demand.
"Consumers' desire to go green - which has not disappeared - will re-emerge with even greater prominence...I think that they will reward companies that are green and offer green products and services."
He also believes that having found the internet is a source of bargains during the recession, retailers will need to continue to offer great online services.
Tesco is set to launch an online fashion store later this year to sell its own lines as well as those from about a dozen young fashion brands.
Leahy also noted that international opportunities, particularly in China and India which are home to almost 40% of the world's population, shouldn't be ignored.
"All of these trends spell change to not just how we do business, but for the entire supply chain," he concluded.
"And the change needs to start now, so that companies are well placed for the upturn when it comes."
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