Tesco hires agency man Atkinson to lead brand challenge to packaged goods giants

New Tesco CEO Philip Clarke mused a couple of weeks ago that non Tesco-branded brands (bear with us) was a direction the company was looking at and the dynamic former international director has been as good as his word, launching three of them, ChokaBlok ice-cream, La-thams dog food and NutriCat cat food.

The giant retailer has also hired Matt Atkinson (pictured) from the direct marketing agency EHS 4D as its new group marketing and digital officer, reporting to long-serving CMO Tim Mason who has his hands full as boss of the loss-making Fresh & Easy chain in the US.

All of which will alarm the likes of Nestle, Procter & Gamble and Unilever who are used to battling with Tesco buyers over prices and promotions but not so used to the mighty retailer actually eating their lunch.

Tesco brand development director Sidonie Kingsmill told Marketing that the brand owners knew about the launches but ‘were not upset’ because the products offered something different and were good news for the overall category.

Well they’re probably a bit upset.

The three brands will launch initially in Tesco’s central European stores so it will be interesting to see if all three make the cut. Tesco often trials ideas in these markets before bringing them to the UK.

The UK accounts for about a third of Tesco’s sales and over half its profits. With over 30 per cent of the UK market the company is finding it increasingly difficult to expand its number of stores and clearly sees the new brands (different from own label) as a way of increasing its margins, as its Finest food range has.

As for new marketing supremo Atkinson, he has worked with Tesco as a client for many years, particularly on its hugely successful Clubcard operation. EHS 4D (formerly Evans Hunt Scott) is owned by Euro RSCG. Atkinson will be replaced by group marketing director Tash Whitney.

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