Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Where now for Tesco NAMs?

Tesco NAMs have two choices:
  • Await a return to ‘normal’ (and join all those other NAMs that are still awaiting a return to ‘ normal’ trade management following the 2007 global financial crisis..?)
  • Or, accept that business is about making the best of the ‘here and now’….

Alternative actions?
  • Ignore Tesco’s troubles? i.e. business as usual: illogical, given that nothing in Tesco is or will be the same, ever again..
  • Do nothing? i.e. stop all initiatives: unwise given their 25%+ of the grocery market and equivalent access to ‘your’ consumer..
  • Tailored initiatives? i.e. based on based on current circumstances, as we know them…

On the face of it, Tesco, a new customer, is now in a mode that is
  • Ultra conservative
  • Risk-averse
  • Retro-focused and defensive
  • Under new management, but distracted by re-audit, legal, City/share-price, Government, loss of market share…to be followed by good people jumping ship?
  • Receptive to convincing ideas for growth, on a fair-share basis…
  • Driven by a new team that has to succeed…

The way forward for NAMs has to be via initiatives that are
  • Simple and direct
  • Defensible
  • Tailored to Tesco traffic-profiles (holding and optimising their current-customer types)

These initiatives must have
  • Conservative/achievable forecasts
  • Clear KPIs
  • A results-based reward structure
  • Error-free execution
  • 100% availability
  • Exclusivity in exchange for 100% compliance

In other words, the best opportunity you have had to work properly with Tesco in years…

Monday, 29 September 2014

A one-off approach to Aldi and Lidl?

Traditional NAMs and their marketing colleagues have been reared in a culture of continuity. In other words, we spent years building up relationships with consumers and customers, on the premise that a strategic approach to brand optimisation produced a predictable and acceptable return on investment, growing a level of brand equity that would carry us over the troughs in demand.

This all changed with the 2007 global financial crisis and the emergence of the savvy consumer, gradually morphing into the savvy buyer, each unwilling to outsource their purchase decision-making to marketers and retailers, in a continuous search for demonstrable value-for-money, for each purchase…

The results are evident in the successes of Aldi and Lidl at the expense of Tesco and the other mults…

We are now as good as yesterday’s sales results, everywhere…

Any supplier attempting to build up a continuous relationship with the discounters, soon realises that life in this channel consists of a series of one-off initiatives, each bearing little or no relationship with previous moves made with the retailer.

In fact, thinking about it, the same now holds true for dealings with the major multiples (the over-rider agreement is now seen as ineffectual and is fast becoming increasingly dis-credited as the row about commercial income escalates…).

And perhaps this is how it should be in business..

If this is the case, perhaps all branded manufacturers should target Aldi & Lidl with one-off experiments to help their colleagues become accustomed to discontinuity, developing skills that can then be applied, hopefully with even more effect, via their traditional customers, making each initiative ‘the best ever’, as if our livelihood depended upon it…as it probably does…

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Retailers' Commercial Income - a cloudy window emerges for suppliers?

As the Tesco profit-overstatement issue builds, it would appear that advance booking of supplier investment will be challenged in terms of the degree of judgement involved and the resulting scope for interpretation…

The FT goes into the detail re the complexity involved in auditing retailer accounts that are based on high-volume, low-value transactions. This means that auditors tend to focus on the systems, controls and processes. 

The article also adds some gems re the audit-techniques used such as examining a sample of agreements between supplier and retailer for accuracy, and may even contact the supplier for validation…

This retrospective analysis of all commercial income, combined with the legal presence and potential shareholder class-action moves in the US, has to result in increasing clarification and classification of the monies paid by suppliers including:
- Rental of space
- Price support
- Promo-support
- Over-riders
- % split between commercial income and operating profit/sales
- And more…(think shopper-marketing, for starters…)

As the ‘revelations’ enter the public domain, other major retailers will need to explain how their systems and process are different/better, or suffer hits to their share prices… In the same way, brand owners will need to anticipate and defend their use of trade investment to ‘encourage’ consumer demand….

Clarifying the opportunity window
However, as the smoke begins to clear, the real opportunity for suppliers lies in the fact that a move to results-based reward, paid retrospectively, would solve many of the problems caused by advance booking  of commercial income. Measurement against clear and unambiguous KPIs would reduce the judgement-element, and booking of the income could be tied down to actual sales performance in given periods of the financial year, or a conservative estimate agreed and used where necessary…

The resulting issue for retailers would be the negative impact on cashflow of moving from payment-in-advance to after-the-event remuneration…

Here a courageous supplier might try to point out that credit periods were always intended to bridge the gap between supply of goods to the retailer and receipt of payment from the shopper.

However, with average credit periods at 40 days+ on supplies that can include best-selling SKUs being delivered daily, but an average stockturn in retail of 15 times p.a., i.e. 24 days stock, it could be said that there is already some surplus in the cashflow pipeline..

Or is supplier credit perhaps the next financial crisis ticking away in the background?

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Tesco troubles pile high, but will not come cheap…

According to Reuters, the auditors for all three of Britain's biggest publicly-quoted retailers - Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons - told investors in their most recent annual reports that their businesses faced material risks regarding the reporting of the supplier rebates. Those at the smaller online retailer Ocado did likewise.

In other words, ‘everyone knows’ or should have, that forward booking of supplier rebates is common practice, and usually causes no problems in good times, but…

Another, more obvious sign of trouble has been the dramatic falls in ROCE levels since the 2007 global financial crisis, with one notable exception: Walmart is still delivering a steady 18%+, operating in the same economic conditions.. (Clients and NamNews subscribers might care to check over our in-house updates for reminders going back at least five years…)

When new management, auditors and legal advisers re-assess past accounting process, it is probable that more issues will be added to the pile…

Meanwhile, to maintain the audit-momentum, the Independent reports that in the US, Los Angeles-based law firm Glancy Binkow & Goldberg has said it is investigating potential -class action- claims on behalf of Tesco’s American shareholders over possible violations of federal securities laws, focusing on “certain statements” issued by Tesco about its operations and financial performance.

The resulting falls in share price will impact suppliers and especially NAMs...

All of this will cost Tesco, and to a lesser extent, the other multiples much time and money, and major distraction, as the benefits of hindsight kick in ….

However, it should be borne in mind that whilst Tesco is on the ropes, it is not on the canvas…

Deep down, the crisis is but another business problem that needs managing, in order to focus on consolidating a 25% market share (see KamBlog)

This set-back will give Tesco and its supplier-partners a once-and-for-all opportunity of ‘cleaning up the future’, providing a basis for fair share dealing where willing compliance saves the cost of second-guessing, a place where business development becomes the focus of business reviews and appropriate reward for risk the basis for negotiation…

A true resetting of the supplier-retailer clock to a new time-zone in trade relationships.. why not scroll down, and keep scrolling, for ways and means?

Monday, 22 September 2014

Tesco profits overstatement - what it means for NAMs

Tesco’s announcement that it had overstated its expected first-half profit by an estimated £250m is obviously an embarrassment and patently impacts the share price.

Given that £250m represents approximately 22.7% of the original £1.1bn forecast, City reaction is understandable...

The overstatement is apparently down to a combination of the accelerated recognition of commercial income and delayed accrual of costs. In other words, possible booking of anticipated future income, like trade investment in advance of sales and could include, among others, delaying accounts payable, deferred tax liability etc.

As far as Dave Lewis’s reputation is concerned, the error occurred in the month before he joined, he went public as soon as the mistake was discovered, and announced that Deloitte will undertake an independent and comprehensive review of the issues, in collaboration with their legal advisers, i.e. All positive.

The real issue is the impact and distraction that will be caused by an independent audit of process conducted under a City spotlight ‘with lawyers present’, in troubled times.

In other words, accounting procedure that was fine in good times could now be re-assessed from a different perspective, and with the benefit of hindsight….

In practice, it could be difficult to prevent the project becoming a fundamental review of how Tesco does business with suppliers and the public.

As far as NAMs are concerned, this means that retail margins, days credit, settlement-discount arrangements, trade investment and deductions could be assessed in terms of their calculation and how settled.

At best, expect delays and distraction from the normal job of developing joint business opportunities, not only from Tesco, but also from other customers as they conduct lite-versions of the same process, just-in-case….

However, one positive result has to be the buyer's heightened sensitivity to, and appreciation of, the cost and value of dealing with NAMs that can rationalise their cost-base and demonstrate deliverable financial value in every element of their offerings....

Friday, 19 September 2014

The Scottish Referendum - an indicator of increasing localisation, a global trend towards 1:1 offerings?

Whilst today’s narrow 55/45 ‘No’ result indicates the degree of feelings-mix north of the border, the size of the 85% turnout is a massive signal that consumers want more attention given to their needs at local level…

In other words, voters were echoing a trend already happening in shopping behaviour…

Given the emergence of the savvy consumer, a survivor of the global financial crisis, and their unwillingness to outsource their consumption decision-making-process to retailers and marketers in their quest for demonstrable value-for-money, sellers have had to increasingly make their offering accessible and tailor-made to individual need in order to secure initial and especially repeat purchase.

For instance, assume that a superstore/hypermarket offering is currently made up of 70% national and a token 30% locally-focused product-mix based on very obvious and traditional tastes. As the savvy consumer becomes more accustomed to shopping around - physically and virtually - then retailers that closely match their needs at the right price will sell more…

Retailers have to find a way of implementing store-level assortment, with all the skill and application normally applied at national level, whilst suppliers need to accommodate the resulting store-level purchasing decision-making via additional KAM manpower…

In other words, think Superstore with a national/local assortment-mix of 30/70 i.e. 70% locally required brands, in order to compete with genuinely local retailers, using genuinely local offerings, to meet genuinely local needs…  

A possible answer to the increasing space-redundancy of ‘squeezed middle’ retailers?

For brand marketers, this means moving away from the idea of 100% national coverage for brands, and instead settling for regional ‘patchwork’ distribution that matches local need. In addition, it means a shift in emphasis away from national fragmented TV to optimise the local advantages of 1:1 social media…

An untidy, but pragmatic response to the real world.

NB. NamNews subscribers will already have found this idea and its implementation developed in the September issue of NamNews - Free trial available here

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Primark introduce budget Nail & Brow bars into stores

According to Retail Gazette, Primark are teaming with recently launched nail and brow studio Love Beauty, and aim to provide accessible expertise at 50% off high street prices.

A Love Beauty brow and nail bar was launched in Primark Manchester on 15th September and will roll-out to Primark Liverpool on 22nd September, followed by Dublin on the 29th and then nationwide.

Primark’s expansion has been burgeoning in recent years, what with concessions now running through Selfridges, stock selling through ASOS and plans to enter the US market next year

Time to check out what Primark have done to the clothing category, and factor Primark Love Beauty into your mix?

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Avoid jail by paying fines in your local corner shop

Brian Moore, Dubai, 1999
According to the Irish Times, People fined in the courts will soon be able to pay the penalty in their local shop while buying their groceries.

Under a new plan, the Courts Service is seeking for 480 retail outlets nationwide to participate in the new system of fines payment. It is estimated that retailers will accept as many as 93,000 fine payments each year.

One of the objectives of the new legislation is to reduce the number of people sent to prison each year and will allow people pay by installment.

As the pic shows, retailers in Dubai were way ahead of the curve on this one back in 1999...

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Superdrug: the super hurdles to super online... Why anything less can’t hack it

Marketing Week reports that A.S. Watson is launching an innovation lab to improve its digital strategy and accelerate ecommerce growth as part of a £37m investment.

Called eLab, the new unit will drive its online strategy globally. The team will comprise of 80 digital specialists based out of mainland China, Hong Kong, Milan and London.

The group-level unit will advise A.S. Watson’s brand teams on strategies related to digital marketing and e-commerce, across all its categories. It will also maintain a platform which will serve as the backbone of its online outlets in the various country markets.

However, before NAMs decide to leap aboard, it might be worth checking out how the company measures against the Amazonian hurdle rates that have to be a basic online requirement:
- 1-Click ordering
- No-quibble returns as easy as ordering
- Delivery: the three-step basics: Anticipatory shipping, Near-home collection, Geographical penetration

All else is detail…

See the three KPIs in practice here

Sunday, 14 September 2014

A royal precaution?

Queen Elizabeth II visits the Antiques Roadshow, BBC 14th September 2014, on the eve of the Scottish Referendum......

Friday, 12 September 2014

Rare Pied Wagtail gives Tesco the bird

                                                                                                                         pic: Wild About Britain

The Telegraph reports that for the past few weeks a Pied Wagtail has been resisting all Tesco attempts at capture in their Gt Yarmouth store.

The company was even granted a licence by Natural England to bring in a sniper to kill the protected bird, prompting outrage from customers, environmentalists and a BBC wildlife presenter.

Because of the reaction, Tesco have decided to revert to more old fashioned means of trapping and releasing the ‘unwelcome’ shopper-bird into the wild….

Given their large-space redundancy and shopper attrition, a more lateral-thinking approach might be to optimise the traffic-building potential of the situation via innovative instore theatre.

In other words, why not set up a series of gentle faux-attempts to capture the bird, stretching over several weeks, shooting it photographically, and posting the ongoing results on YouTube? 

Incidentally, for those NAMs that cannot work a visit to Gt. Yarmouth into their  store-check schedule, a comprehensive BBC treatment of the Pied Wagtail is available here.

Update 23-09-2014: for bird lovers everywhere.
Apparently, the Tesco wagtail has now  been caught and released into the wild.
In other words it would appear that Tesco will not be pursuing the photo-opportunity route suggested above, and are probably preoccupied with other issues...

Hat-tip to Richard for pointing us at the article

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Tesco's fall in share price - why should NAMs bother?

Market capitalisation i.e. value of the company in the open market falls and impacts all stakeholders, including NAMs. For instance in early February, Tesco was valued at £23.58bn whereas today it is valued at £18.23bn…a fall of 22.7% in 7 months!

Why does it matter?
Senior management on share options suffer a direct impact on their personal wealth. Employees on performance-related bonuses via shares become demotivated and begin to consider their options...
In extreme cases (!), there is a negative impact on company reputation i.e. good guys leave, good guys not attracted, while the less-able remain less able… 

Shareholders may force change like splitting the company, replacing board members, etc.

Meanwhile the cost of financing rises
- Loans from banks become more expensive via higher interest rates
- Rights issues i.e. the proceeds and ease of raising new money from shareholders obviously depends
  upon the share price

The growing threat of takeover becomes distracting, at least, and/or may even amplify the above effects..

Impact on suppliers
The resulting bad press can unsettle conservative suppliers, and their shareholders, resulting in pressure to re-balance the customer portfolio (in which case, think also re Sainsbury’s and Morrisons falls in share price?)

Suppliers then reconsider their options and may reclassify the retailer in terms of invest/maintain/divest criteria, ideally following a fundamental re-think…

Meanwhile, given the increased risk:
- A 44 day credit period looks increasingly vulnerable…and even a 2.5+% settlement discount
  seems cheap…
- Trade investment of up to 20% of turnover requires more justification
- 100% compliance becomes a ‘must-get’
- Deductions become challengeable...

Still think a retailer’s share price is simply something for the institutional shareholders?

In other words, Tesco is now in a position to appreciate the benefits of dealing with strong, profitable brands that can help them restore their profitability, and share value..

All it takes is for NAMs to be able to calculate the costs of their offering and demonstrate its value to Tesco’s Balance Sheet and P&L….fast

Monday, 1 September 2014

An ROCE recipe for Dave...?

On his first day at the other side of the Tesco checkout, Dave Lewis will have no shortage of advisers explaining what has gone wrong, a few less saying what to do about it and perhaps a handful indicating a way forward…

Given that scenario, and with some humility, we offer a few pointers for Tesco and its NAMs.

Essentially, Dave Lewis has been parachuted in to restore the share price

Incidentally, much is being made of their loss of market share, but when you think that 30+% of a market seems to translate into market abuse in the minds of politicians, special interest groups and can give the public the impression that ‘Tesco are everywhere’, then perhaps allowing their share to drift down to 25% and keeping it there, would allow  Tesco to focus on growth outside the UK, whilst fulfilling the basic principle of global retailing – profitable dominance of the home market…

Improving the share price:
Given that ROCE drives the share price, then improving ROCE and its elements could provide a way forward

ROCE = Return/Sales i.e. Net Margin  x Sales / Capital Employed i.e. Capital turn
     -  Maintain sales (i.e. see market share issue above), cut costs via reductions in admin and operational costs
     -  Rationalise brand/Private label balance to reflect real market demand and optimise profitability

2. IMPROVING Tesco S/CE i.e. capital rotation
     - maintain sales, cut capital employed i.e. reduce Fixed Assets, Current Assets and increase Current Liabilities

Fixed Asset reduction:
- Sell off land-bank as fast as the property market will allow i.e. without crashing land prices.
- Assess profitability of existing stores, with a view to selling off those that are compromising overall profitability

Current Asset reduction: 
- Reduce stocks by rationalising  ranges and encouraging closer supplier collaboration to increase stockturn
- Reduce debtors (being a retailer, advance payments are parked in the Debtors box…)
- Cash reduction

Current Liabilities increase:
- Move to a gearing level of 30% to remove bank pressure from the mix
- Check the trade-off between extra days credit and settlement discount, and contact the suppliers

This should provide a breathing space to apply some marketing skills…

How about the NAMs?
Consider a ‘what-if’ re Tesco applying the above recipe, and assess the cost to you, and the value to Tesco of your collaboration…