Blog: Behind the scenes at Asda

Chris Brook-Carter | 2 October 2009

The news that Asda is attempting to turn itself into the paragon of transparency is well-timed. Few can blame the retailer for trying to leverage some trust, given the general public's dissatisfaction with its major corporations, who we continue to bail out because of their own greed; its politicians, who still ask us to vote for them, despite their greed; and our sportsmen, who will even crash a Formula 1 car into a barrier at 100 mph in the pursuit of their greed.

So why then has the announcement by Asda's CEO Andy Bond been received so flatly?

“Forget online Britney Spears clips: Asda wants you to switch to a live webcam of workers at its carrot factory. It's part of the grocer's desire to boost confidence in its supply chain. Laudable enough, but don't people have better things to do with their time than watch carrot chopping?” the Independent asked today. And it was not alone.

Are we all being far too cynical? Perhaps the events of the last year have persuaded us to look for the spin doctor's hand in every announcement by a major business. Bond himself says: “Events over the past year mean that faith in big businesses is lower than it’s ever been – because people have stopped trusting what’s going on behind closed doors. So, from today, there is no ‘behind the scenes’ at Asda.

“Our aim is to be a truly open, accessible and transparent business so that we can rebuild trust, and drive customer loyalty. I firmly believe that customer loyalty cannot be bought with plastic points or discount vouchers. It has to be earned.”

But that is exactly the point. Trust does have to be earned, and a few pictures of carrots being chopped up are not going to be enough.

In Bond's defence, this is only the beginning of the project, and he claims that the supermarket will give its consumers a glimpse into the areas of the business they want to see. Furthermore, plans for a "truly transparent" store, in South Wales "where glass walls will replace brick walls, giving a unique window into areas normally out of view", are a nice touch.

However, any skeletons – if there are any – in Asda's closets are not going to be found at the carrot factory, but in the boardrooms at HQ, in the details of the contracts with its suppliers and in the third world factories that produce its clothing ranges.

No competitive business, particularly one owned by the secretive Wal-Mart is going to release a warts-and-all expose on that side of its operations. Yet, unless it does, Asda's claims of transparency fall short.

By Chris Brook-Carter.


BLOG

2019 off to a positive start

Getting 2019 off to a positive start, it seems US apparel retailers saw some holiday cheer, with strong sales momentum that started during the back-to-school season carrying on to Christmas....

BLOG

UN sets new Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action

43 leading fashion brands, retailers and suppliers – including Adidas, Burberry, Gap Inc, H&M Group, Inditex, Kering, Levi Strauss & Co, and PVH Corp – are backing the UN’s new Fashion Industry Charte...

BLOG

Decathlon's decade-long eco-labelling project

Global sporting goods giant Decathlon is nearing the finishing line on a decade-long project that will see all textile and footwear items labelled with their environmental impact by the end of next ye...

BLOG

Regional supply chains shape up

Regional patterns in world textile and apparel trade are becoming increasingly important, according to an analysis using data from the re:source by just-style sourcing tool. The trend reflects both th...

just-style homepage



Forgot your password?