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

Bangladesh safety gaps still remain

As the apparel industry prepares to mark the fifth anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory building tragedy, a new report estimates it could cost US$1.2bn to complete remediation across Bangladesh's rea...

BLOG

Concern mounts over Trump's trade policies

Since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, his administration has been busy fulfilling major campaign promises on trade policy – much to the concern of US fashion brands and apparel ret...

BLOG

Jeans makers eye innovation to regain market share

just-style’s latest weekly roundup begins with a look at how jeans makers are innovating and adapting to evolving consumer needs and the impact of athleisure with new fabric innovation and more sustai...

BLOG

Trump's tariffs threaten textile trade

With tariff discussions looming over the White House, just-style’s news and analysis last week was not surprisingly dominated by talk of a possible trade war....

just-style homepage



Forgot your password?