Tesco should be a lesson to us all



THIS week Tesco announced it is parting company with its chief executive Philip Clarke – who has spent four decades working for the supermarket.
The announcement came at the same time as Tesco bosses revealed that its sales figures for the last year are far worse than were originally predicted.
If you turned the clock back a decade no one could have predicted that the chain would find itself in such a difficult position. After all this was the company that dominated the retail sector for years and came up with concepts and ideas that its rivals were forced to follow.
Tesco were the first to make a success of the loyalty card and also helped change the way the nation bought its groceries with the introduction of internet shopping linked to home deliveries.
At the height of its success the company followed what can only be described as an aggressive expansion policy and famously £1 in every £7 spent by British consumers went straight into Tesco’s tills.
The company was smart enough to keep an eye on changing spending habits and led the way in stocking new products in supermarket aisles such as clothes, consumer goods and DVDs.
But the reality is in business that if you want to stay on top of the pile you have to be constantly developing and evolving to suit the needs and demands of your customers.
Tesco has failed to grasp fully the impact of the recession and the subsequent squeeze on consumer spending.
The economy maybe in recovery mode but the reality is that people are still struggling when it comes to personal finances. That means the old snobberies and preconceptions about budget supermarkets are fast disappearing.
The budget chains have also upped their game and as a result are now claiming a large part of the retail sector as their own.
Of course, it should not be forgotten in all of this that Tesco is still one of the biggest companies in the world. The firm might be going through some hard times but it still has plenty of time and opportunity to turn things around.
As I said the key to all of this is staying in touch with your customers and making sure that you continue to give them what they want.
Success can be a double edged sword when it comes to business. There is nothing wrong with being a market leader who leads the way and sets industry standards.
The key is not to become too pleased with yourself and to let complacency creep in and blind you to the fact that you are no longer delivering the kinds of goods and services that your customers want. 
 If you allow yourself to become complacent then you really could be asking for trouble.

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