Tuesday 10 July 2012

Tesco’s UK Growth Strategy ‘On hold’ to Focus on Global Expansion?

Could the retailer’s "unprecedented" step of shelving advanced plans to open UK stores, as it focuses on improving its estate and opening smaller stores, be an acknowledgement that maintaining its current UK share and developing its global business will optimise Tesco’s return on investment in the long term?

The problem of dominance
Essentially, when a retailer reaches 25% market share, especially in a politically sensitive category like food, then they invariably become the focus of attacks in terms of alleged abuse of power. When the share exceeds 25%, everyone from farmers, suppliers, shoppers, politicians, stockmarket and media then have a means of putting a ‘name‘ to a complaint.
Eventually, the resources required to manage the resulting ‘defensive mode’ result in diminishing returns at local level, and then begin to undermine a retailer’s global strategies.

Tesco as a mass retailer
With 30+% share of food retailing in the UK, Tesco began to redefine itself as a mass retailer, translating its market share into a current share of 12% of ACV, a share well short of the potentially troublesome 25%... This allowed the company to continue to open large spaces, seeking growth in non-food goods and services.
However, it would appear that a combination of the global cutback in consumer spending, especially in non-foods, and the increasing expertise of rival retailers lead to an unprecedented profit warning, prompting a change in strategy.

Supplier trade strategies
Suppliers now need two distinct Tesco trade strategies:
  • UK: Helping Tesco to sell more of their existing products, to existing users, in existing stores, all formats, especially 40,000+ sq ft. in return for 100% zero-defect compliance and fair-share dealing…
  • Global: Helping Tesco as per the UK, in countries where the retailer has already achieved 25% market share.   In other countries, Tesco needs help in attracting more new users, using the pulling power of well-known brands, with increased focus on shopper-marketing to reduce/neutralise the temptation to switch-sell private label, all in exchange for 100% zero-defect compliance and fair-share dealing.
Opportunity or Threat?
An unprecedented window is now available for those suppliers that can define and implement a truly global Tesco strategy. However, like all good windows, the opportunity is transient and also available to the competition.

Moreover, ad hoc, uncoordinated and localised initiatives will too easily translate opportunity into threat in dealing with what is still potentially the world’s most productive trade partner…

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