Thursday 24 September 2015

Tesco scraps 24-hour opening at two large stores - portfolio lessons for NAMs?

In the way that companies portfolio-manage brands by developing a mix of established with new products, and NAMs manage a mix of embryo and mature customers, the strong carrying the weak, so too retailers tolerate varying store profitability providing the national totals of sales and net profits are acceptable.

Thus Tesco, faced with pressures on national performance are probably re-assessing store-level viability based on individual branch P&Ls.

Whilst the obvious short-falling branches have already closed, or are on the waiting-list, marginal cases are obviously being tweaked as a last chance move.

Opening hours reduction obviously provides such an opportunity.
Tesco's original strategy of opening 24/7 was always a better option than guessing in advance whether an area around a store was likely to yield sufficient night-time traffic, given the ease of reducing the opening hours to match demand, via first-hand pragmatism.

So there should be no surprises here.

The question is where this leads, in that it seems inevitable that, should the new opening-hours window not translate into sufficient  improvement in the  bottom line, the knives will be back, in terms of executing a store-portfolio 're-set'.

In other words, Tesco will again bite the redundant-space bullet, starting with store closures, and searching for alternative usage of instore space where the outlet is retained in the portfolio.

This means that Tesco have the courage to cut, and continue to cut, until a sufficiently healthy retailer remains...(ROCE 15%, NPBT 5%, Stockturn 20+...)

And this in turn has to be a way forward for suppliers that need to shore up their bottom lines via a vigorous re-assessment of brands' and customers' portfolios, re-labeling as invest, maintain or divest in recognition of stages of business unit life-cycle evolution, and investing accordingly.

The alternative has to be continuing as usual and relying on a new owner to do it on our behalf...

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