All of a sudden running a big supermarket company isn’t as easy as it used to be.
Before the financial crisis in the UK (and no doubt elsewhere) all you had to do was build more and bigger stores, screw your suppliers and mine the data you gathered and it was trebles (and bonuses) al round.
But life, or the behaviour of consumers, has changed.
So we have that solid northern institution the Co-op suddenly owning to a bloody great great black hole at its bank; largely due to its ill-timed and badly executed takeover of Bradford & Bingley, lender of choice to over-stretched buy-to-let investors.
Given that the Co-op now needs to find somewhere north of £500m to plug the aforementioned hole you might expect it to stop advertising for a bit. But no, it’s back on the airwaves with a new campaign from Leo Burnett plugging another aspect of its sprawling empire – legal services.
These we are told, in a nicely-judged ad are, are “straightforward and transparent” with fixed fees. Fair enough (although transparent means you can see through something), but does the Co-op need to do all these things?
Meanwhile, back at Tesco Towers in soon-to-be-departed Cheshunt, CEO Phil Clarke (left) is taking another kicking as the UK’s biggest retailer announces yet again that it’s under-performing the market. with same store sales down a whopping one per cent (these things are relative).
Clarke blames this on the ‘horsemeat’ scandal, although food did OK, and having the wrong mix of other items in its bigger stores; which he also says are too big. On the radio this morning he seemed to be implying that the company would drop big ticket electrical items; sensible enough – why buy a TV or an iPad from Tesco when there’s a much better choice online or at a specialist retailer?
We used to, of course (or some people did). Which is why retailing then was much easier than it is now.