Great brands and great men

 

For many years Tesco sold people the groceries they wanted. Tesco’s market share went up and up. Profits and dividends rose whilst prices remained competitive. Sir Terry Leahy presided over a huge success.

For many years  Manchester United built up a reputation for being the best or one of the best clubs in the Premier League. Under Sir Alex Ferguson the club won many trophies, increased its world fame and fan base, and became a huge revenue generator  from tv rights, sales of products and even from selling tickets for games.

During their glory years both UK success stories had their critics. Tesco attracted endless criticism for being too big, for being too tough in negotiations with suppliers, Councils and other partners. Yet they remained the UK’s favourite grocer as measured by how many people shopped there and by  how much product they purchased. Manchester United of course drew the criticism and the jealousy of the supporters of many other teams that they usually defeated, and the special criticism of the few teams that could give them a good match and could sometimes  beat them in competitions. Sir Alex’s style with the  media often encouraged verbal retaliation.

When these two leaders retired from their jobs, both organisations started to record disappointing performance.  Manchester United had a poor season last year under a new manager chosen with the support of  Sir Alex. This season has started badly under a costly  new foreign manager who was meant to change things for the better. A club like Manchester United with very expensive and well trained players does not expect to lose 4-0 to MK Dons nor to be so far adrift of the top of the Premier league.

Tesco has reported slipping market share, with more people going to competitors than before. Last week came the shocking news that things were  not expected to get better anytime soon, and the dividend was slashed by three quarters to conserve cash and reflect the realities of lower profits.

In each case there are three popular explanations of the changes.

Some think Leahy and Ferguson were special managers, and their replacements so far have failed to show anything like their skill at mobilising the very considerable resources at their command and inspiring their teams to perform.  They have on their side the fact that the decline seemed to set in in each case on the departure of the old boss. In each case there has been subsequent management change as the owners seek to recapture the old success, implying those most involved think management is the problem or part of it.

Some think the later years of both super managers left problems behind which suddenly surfaced or became clear on their departure. Did Sir Alex fail to buy the new younger players needed in time? Did Sir Terry push too hard to cut costs and raise profits to the point where service was damaged or prices were too high? It is always tempting for new incoming management to blame the outgoing, and some times it is right. The weakness in this argument is the new management at Manchester United was able to buy new players, and Tesco’s management has been free to raise service levels and or cut prices if they were an inherited problem.

Some think the problems lie outside the managements, especially in the case of Tesco. Maybe the competition has just got a lot better, which would have posed as big a problem for the retiring managers had they stayed.

In the last couple of years Manchester City with a big chequebook and a skilful leadership, Chelsea with billionaire backing and talented management, and an improved Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham have all perhaps made it more difficult for the old leader.

In the grocery area the last couple of years has seen a strong and well marketed challenge from the big discounters to Tesco and to the other old leaders including Sainsbury. It may not just be Tesco that suffers from the outbreak of much tougher price competition, with customers becoming cannier and reaping the benefits.

Do you have a favourite explanation? I suspect there is some truth in all three explanations. I also think Ferguson and Leahy do make the case that some managements can make a lot of difference and are worth the money.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

94 Comments

  1. Mark W
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    How could you forget the UK from 1979-1990 under a great manager and what has followed ever after.

    • JoeSoap
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      What these all have in common is that the person in question jumped off the wagon just before it crashed. Part of the greater insight good managers have is that it enables them to know better than others when to leave the job.

      • libertarian
        Posted September 3, 2014 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        Joe Soap
        You are 100% correct

        ALL large institutions fail eventually, its called evolution. The world changes and what once worked no longer does. Those institutions lead by men and women of vision and talent leave at just the right time.

        The Conservative Party is a classic example of having a leadership that has overseen the demise of a once all conquering political party. It has to die now to allow space for a new entrant to take its place ( big hint that new entrant will NOT be UKIP )

        More than 80% of the FTSE 100 from the 1950’s no longer exist, the Conservative Party is an animal of the 1950’s and I’m afraid that the remaining rump of it in Southern England is on the endangered list

  2. Leslie Singleton
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    The problem with Tesco is that they do not sell either Dover Sole or Creme de Menthe. Lemon Sole (not actually a member of the Sole family so I understand) is no substitute though they try to sell it as such; and nothing goes down so well at the end of a meal as peppermint, especially with dark chocolate. Also they do not sell broad beans in those easy microwaveable sealed bags as they do peas and other veg. In compensation their fresh fruit is top notch.

    As to Man U I am not prejudiced and don’t care who beats them. Hard to believe that they just spent more on one player, so I read, than Burnley have spent in their entire existence.

  3. Mark B
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    It is hard to generalize, too many factors over two different industries. Football, and their support / patronage is in no way similar to that of a supermarket chain. We can do with out sport entertainment (circuses), but not so our food (bread).

    Sir Alex Ferguson was not successful at first and, given the size and spending power, although the club was very successful domestically, it was very poor in relation to European Honours compared with smaller clubs.

    I guess when a new man takes over, they like to do things their way, rather than stick to the tried and tested. But what neither man ever did, was insult their client base. When you do that, you really are doomed. I mean, remember what happened to Gerald Ratner ? Lets face it, you have to be a real IDIOT to go round calling your customers names and basically deriding them, haven’t you ? Any CEO who did that, would be sacked by the board or, turfed out by the shareholders. And is they didn’t, then the brand would suffer and the customers would go elsewhere, wouldn’t they ?

    • David Price
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      A CEO that did that in the private sector should certainly expect the boot, it seems they do things differently in the public sector

    • Ludwig
      Posted September 4, 2014 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

      I have to disagree with you about Sir Alex Ferguson. At Aberdeen he didn’t have large financial resources to call upon and yet not only did Aberdeen break the duopoly of the Old Firm (Rangers and Celtic) but also gained European success. At Manchester United he certainly had access to larger financial resources and that paid dividends in the 90s but after Abramovich brought his billions to Chelsea he was still able to compete with inferior resources, so Sir Alex’s success cannot just be explained away as having superior resources.

  4. Posted September 3, 2014 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Manchester City were great in the 60’s and always were set to return when an investment of substantial amounts was made.

    People on smaller incomes lead with their pocket. Tesco coupons whilst quite good (if you have time to sort out the messy little things will not replace a down pricing of goods.

    Leaders are not necessarily managers , although some are good at what they do .You just need to look at a football crowd to see who are the leaders in riots etc. Whether they lead for the good or the bad people will follow.

    Look at the birds , the skies, the sea to see the leaders and the followers who dictate the events of the day or the year. There are different types of leaders who will affect the flow of so called success, god forbid should we let the silver back rule.

    Is money to buy and rely success ? Is the ability to be self sufficient success?

  5. Bazman
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    It’s not just price the main supermarkets are failing at and British football was exposed as what it really is by the world cup. Both bloated, overweight with sense of privilege.
    Tesco just got to big with to many products at high prices. They cannot justify the prices by being local either inconveniently being on the edge of towns needing a car to reach them. Traffic jams and the ‘can’t be bothered’ factor must play a part. My small gripe with our local Tesco extra is that it is massive, but my mobile phone does not work, ironically Tesco Mobile, other networks do, having me walk round looking for my wife and child who do not follow any logical route around the store.
    The discounters have reduced prices increased quality, given back the novelty and discovery factor, even with a number of products of which many are better than Tesco. Service is not good but for the most part this can be lived with because of the prices and any unusual ingredients needed Hoovered up from the local Waitrose or the like.
    The car parks of these discounters are full and the reason can be seen with the number of different people in the shop. Posh shoppers looking in wonder at the products, the usual skint types and everyone in-between. Tesco are just being used for beer and fuel and wondering why as they face a backlash with it seems local shops reaping indirect benefits too as small expensive shops popping up, at least in areas, of money. As well as specialist discount shops selling things for a pound and branded product too. Areas like Barrow-in-Furness sink further with the council now laughably introducing parking meters to speed this up. Lidl has left town and Cash Converters are closing down to give some idea of problem in the North. Small trader do not stand a chance. South Cambridgeshire continues to grow and have the problems of wealth despite the councils doing their best to stop this.

    • libertarian
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      Bazman

      I’ve read your post 3 times. You appear to contradict yourself 2 or 3 places but its hard to tell as you also like to inject sarcastic “humour” into your posts.

      The things I picked up on that I agree with are

      Councils ( both Lab /Tory ) are idiotically anti car and push shoppers out of town

      Tesco’s food offering is now quite poor and uncompetetive

      Well serviced independent traders are being driven out by high rent and rates and where I live the fierce anti small business stance of Conservative local councils

      As for Man Utd ha ha ha £400 million spent on poor & wrong players.

      Premiere league clubs have adopted the big corporate top down approach with the owner/board picking the players to buy and sell. This did NOT happen under Ferguson. Chelsea ( my team ) also were doing this until Jose came back and insisted this time he chose the players. Look at the difference that makes we have a far stronger and younger team AND we made an overall £18 million PROFIT in the transfer window. So once again it shows that big institutions managed top down are no longer a good way to run any enterprise be it a public company, a public service or indeed a sports club

      • Bazman
        Posted September 3, 2014 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

        There ain’t nothing of value that ain’t VAT’ed. I’m going S.H.O.P.P.I.N.G.!

  6. Gary
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Creative destruction at work. Old methods replaced by newer, more efficient, more productive methods that meet demand. GDP(output) does not necessarily grow, it may even contract.

    This is how it should be. Get the govt and it’s banker partners out of the market.

    • libertarian
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      Gary

      Exactly right

  7. Lifelogic
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Tesco and HSBC are my only duff share investments at the moment but I shall probably stick with them. But so many of the super markets are just the same.

    I think the tide is turning people are sick of all the tricks supermarkets get up to with two for ones, three for two, moving everything around the shop endlessly, putting similar product in several places, marking thinks up hugely then giving large reduction or vouchers. Or making the “£2 off ” look like the actual price and the other many trick they have. People are sick of having to spend ages in store working out which pack, discount, offer etc. is the best deal for them.

    There is a huge IT industry in trying to trick you into buy or spending more by moving things and altering prices, offers & packages, vouchers and monitoring you every time you shop.

    Why is it that a simple tooth brushes or batteries can cost £3.99 when they can be made for 10P (and are sold for that in many countries)? Why are aspirin, ibuprofen and paracetamol costing say 10p often sold at £1.99+? There is endless choice in brands, multi-packs and packaging but little real choice or value.

    Above all they sell very little I would actually want to eat (or wear). Why are they now still full of 6 month old apples from New Zealand and even 12 month old UK apples? While the UK trees in Kent are currently dripping with lovely apples? One supermarket I know has better apples on the tree in their car park.

    There is virtually nothing for sale in most UK supermarkets that one would want to put straight in my mouth, unlike many French, Italian, Spanish, Indian, Chinese equivalents.

    Why is it so hard to get some nice, real & fresh bread? Why are sandwiches all sold nearly frozen? Do people really want tuna, prawn, tomatom chicken and bread ice cream sandwiches?

    Why are ready meals usually so very unpleasant and often so hugely over sweet or over oily. If I make something then freeze it and eat it later it is very nice. Why can they not do it? It seems it is all about making something for tuppence and selling it for £4.99.

    Football on the other hand is tricky a game of risk. If you have money for the best players you should, on balance, win more than the other teams, but luck, confidence, psychology, team spirit all have an effect. But if you do not win, then you will not bring in the money and cannot then buy the best players. So down and down you go unless you find another billionaire to step in and rescue you.

    But I do not really care. I would rather play the game than watch it, though as my age catches up with me alas, I am perhaps better sticking with table tennis or swimming.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 7:13 am | Permalink

      Near my holiday home in the south of France is a shop of only about 500 sq ft that has more that I would actually want to eat than the typical massive UK supermarket. Seasonal fruits, veg, meat, decent real sausages, bread, dried goods, pulses, tinned goods, salted goods, boudin noir, even a few decent ready meals, some good frozen seafood too…..

      Why not in the 50,000 sq ft supermarket? Or even just a corner of them?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 3, 2014 at 7:19 am | Permalink

        Similar excellent small Greek, Pursian and Lebanese shops in London too.

      • stred
        Posted September 3, 2014 at 8:41 am | Permalink

        My holiday house also has a Lidls just up the road. It is so busy that during the holiday season they have trolley gridlock. I had been using these small shops at home since they arrived, as I could do my shopping quickly, without looking for things. They cram all their own brands into about 10th the area of a Tesco the other British supermarkets and their own brands are as good or better. I noticed that there were the poorest people at the checkouts and also people with large cars who were piling into the delicatessen for smoked salmon and continental cheese and were probably as tight as myself. I even bought my clother there and was told that I looked like a Belgian lorry driver.

        Unfortunately, I assumed that all the shopping snobs, such as my wife would not be seen dead in Lidls and bougt most of my shares in supermarkets, as I thought it was safe and paid a good dividend for my retirement. The new management have tried every gimmick they could think of. They have put wood around the entrance, closed the caf and bought coffee shops to make shpping there a social event (no really), tilted the fish counter towards the isle slightly, swapped the fish and bucthers over, and moved just about everything so you can’t find what you came for. They have given customers their own scanner to take around as you go, but this section at the checkout has been empty when I go, and some prices have come down while other go up, and they think we won’t notice.

        Now they have given the wunderkind who thought up these ideas a large amount of money to bugger off and are slashing the dividend. They could have employed me for £5 to tell them to cut their costs and prices and stop wasting space with identical products.

        • stred
          Posted September 3, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

          Aisle. No time to edit or check typos and grammar this morning, owing to the wife asking how long until she can go out.

      • Anonymous
        Posted September 3, 2014 at 8:54 am | Permalink

        Why not a 50,000 squ ft supermarket ? Because France is not nearly so crowded as Britain – which is why you live there.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted September 3, 2014 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

          I do not live in France. Far too many taxes and wealth taxes for me. I just have a holiday home there. The point I was making was that huge hyper markets in the UK can have less choice of goods (that I want to buy) than some small 500 sq ft shops in the south of France or some good small Greek & Arab shops in London.

          I am not interested in endless aisles of fizzy drinks, 1000s of different tooth pastes, endless crisps/snacks, endless cleaning products, thousands of tasteless cheese, over sweet & pappy breads, over sweet yoghurts ……

          I want good in season fruit & vedge, milk, double cream, butter, plain full fat Greek yoghurt, good bread, fish, seafood, good meat, dried goods, flours, pasta, a few good cheeses, pulses, salted anchovies, decent sausages, loo rolls, washing powder ….. not much else.

          • Anonymous
            Posted September 3, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

            B-b-b-but… we are told the free market succeeds on competition and choice.

            What better place to test this theory than supermarket isles where products compete side by side ?

            What seems to float your boat is a limited offering of tried and tested products which do what they say on the tin.

            ME TOO !

            I am equally as sick of having to choose energy supplier.

          • Anonymous
            Posted September 3, 2014 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

            aisles

          • APL
            Posted September 3, 2014 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

            Anonymous: “I am equally as sick of having to choose energy supplier.”

            Then don’t. No one forces you to choose, stay with the one you currently have.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted September 3, 2014 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

            Well Tesco is now suffering so the market is working – the market is certainly not perfect – ideally a good market needs clever, intelligent, wise and knowledgeable consumers who are not easily tricked.

            It is however always better than a government command economy, as we see with the N H S. and the EUSSR.

    • Bazman
      Posted September 4, 2014 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      Packet sandwiches? Coffee chain coffee. What are you like?
      Try Lidl, Waitrose and doing your own cooking. My wife does mine. If you are not bothered about money then some of the expensive farm shops are very good, can be cheap too. I once paid six quid for a 750ml of cider at one! Perfect should have bought two. Food fairs are good to if eye wateringly expensive. Interesting to see raw products. Coco nibs taste like chocolate I told a smiling crowd watching me taste some.
      Massive elephant foot Kebab with everything on it and extra chilli can be recommended after a game of pool and a lots of fizzy lager, food snobs can just eat it. Or not.

  8. Mondeo Man
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Tesco catered for blue collar/lower middle class customers. These people have been hit hardest by the downturn and Tesco failed to see it – the previous management are as much to blame as the new. Lidl and Aldi have filled the gap but has Waitrose (at the other end of the scale) experienced the same problems ?

    Sport (like war) is different to business. Men are sheep and need a strong (lucky !) shepherd. People are sheep and will follow the flock so that you’ll find Man U supporters in every far village which, like Tesco, kills off the local talent and is not good for the country (England’s record.)

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      The metropolitan sheep are still able to take refuge in M&S in their droves .

      I can’t blame their cynical management for turning customer ignorance into a virtue !

      Outside one of their shops I saw a placade saying they were committed to becoming “carbon neutral” and improving the lot of their suppliers with patronising pictures of farmers in Africa .

      Try telling that to the folks in Shepshed who used to make shirts for them before the factory was forced to close so they can sell their customers tat from China .

      Evidently Chinese factory workers are not as photogenic as bright eyed Africans . Why risk taking your customers out of their comfort zone ?

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      When the top has been reached there is only one place to go – down.

      • Bazman
        Posted September 4, 2014 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        My career entirely. It is the most shattering experience of a young man’s life when one morning he awakes and quite reasonably says to himself “I will never play the Dane.” When that moment comes, one’s ambition ceases. Don’t you agree?

  9. alan jutson,
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    The simple explanation would be

    Nothing lasts forever.

    I guess you could say the same about political party’s !

    A new kid on the block with new ideas, gains new traction from the public, because it promises/gives them what they want or want to hear, and once it gets a core customer/fan/supporter base, the momentum gets going and its hard to stop its progress.

    • JoeSoap
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      But some people, mentioning no names, would still buy from Tesco even if the product was expensive and past its sell-by date.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted September 3, 2014 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        Only because there’s a rival supermarket chain which is allegedly even worse, and you wouldn’t want them to take over because you hadn’t done the sensible thing and shopped at Tesco, would you?

    • Bob
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      I like your style Alan.

      I presume Mr Redwood is alluding to the decline of the Tory Party under it’s current leadership, but he doesn’t seem to suggest the obvious solution. It must be very difficult being trapped inside and muted by a party which is heading in the opposite to one’s desired direction.

      I hope he will be a little more outspoken if/when he chooses to comment on the abuse of the EU Arrest Warrant by the UK authorities in hunting down and imprisoning the parents of a terminally ill child for the crime of seeking a second opinion.

      No freedom of movement or right to family life for them!

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 3, 2014 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        I agree fully on both issues. Only eight months left for Cameron to change direction with or without Scotland. It he does not do some thing real and specific on the EU/UKIP before the party conference he is surely done for.

        He is probably done for already.

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted September 3, 2014 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        Bob,
        I agree with you about the shocking treatment meted out to Ashya King and his parents. I don’t expect any comment from our host about this specific case or the more general question of the EUAW – he knows which side his bread is buttered!

        Reply I have already commented under local pages

        • Bob
          Posted September 3, 2014 at 6:59 pm | Permalink


          “Reply I have already commented under local pages”

          http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/category/wokingham-and-west-berkshire-issues/

          Don’t you think the issue deserves to be on the front page?

          When the Teresa May signed us up to the EU Arrest Warrant we were assured that it would be used to extradite criminals and terrorists trying to evade justice by fleeing abroad.

          I was right to be sceptical.

          Reply It is under local pages because constituents had written to me about it and I wanted them to find it easily.

  10. Antisthenes
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Perhaps complacency and incompetency of management so not keeping up with new ways of doing things and/or not keeping labour costs and work practices under control could be the answer. Not an unusual scenario remember British Leyland, the coal industry, ship building and football clubs who have risen high and then declined. All went by the board because competitors did it better. It is how free markets work the best managed rise the not so well fall. Nations are no different the West is now in decline and others on the rise because we are embracing socialist practices while they are embracing capitalist ones.

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      Lidl and Aldi are no frills, stack ‘em high and flog ‘em cheap merchants. What’s new about that ?

      Tesco’s main failure was in not recognising that the average Brit is getting poorer.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 3, 2014 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

        And the few richer shopper will go to Waitrose, Fortnams, Harrods & Farmers Markets.

      • APL
        Posted September 3, 2014 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        Yep, after holding her nose and taking the plunge, the wife hasn’t stopped singing the praises of Lidl and Aldi.

        Us paupers need to make every penny work for its living.

        MPs ( those in the top 10% of the population by earnings ) can afford Fortnams.

        • APL
          Posted September 3, 2014 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

          “MPs ”

          Talking of which, my Labour MP was outside on the street singing the praises of the Union. He had managed to learn his lines and deliver them quite convincingly, except I happen to know him before he was an MP, typical chippy nationalist.

  11. John E
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    There is much more chance and randomness in our lives than we are care to admit, hence our need to make up comforting narratives. The problems come when the “great leaders” start to believe their own myths. Similarly all Prime Ministers go mad eventually if they stay in the role too long.
    We should judge a leader by their legacy. If it all falls apart as soon as they leave, then they weren’t so great after all.

  12. A different Simon
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    This is how my brother who is in marketing explained it to me .

    10 years ago the demographics of the country resembled a pyramid with some people wealthy , others making headway and others going nowhere .

    The choice of supermarkets reflected this .

    The well off went to Waitrose , those who were doing OK went to Tesco’s/Sainsburys , the less well of went to Aldi , Netto , Lidl .

    Now the demographics of the country resemble an assymetic hour glass ; there is one group at the top and a massive insolvent group at the bottom and nothing much in between .

    Supermarkets like Tesco , Sainsbury and Morrison’s have to chose whether they want to compete with Waitrose or compete with Aldi because their old target demographic group doesn’t exist anymore .

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      This is mirrored everywhere .

      There is a demographic group which has the right type of job title which comes with pensions ,and has promotional prospects and a payscale which generates a considerable surplus at the end of the month .

      Then there is everyone else .

      The financial institutions are only interested in the first group . Even in the depths of depression they will fall over themselves to lend to that group for a housing renovation project or an increase the credit limit on a card .

      It’s just not worth their time dealing with everyone else .

      • APL
        Posted September 3, 2014 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

        ADS: “There is a demographic group which has the right type of job title which comes with pensions .. ”

        Yes, those at the top of the civil service and public sector. The head of Rotherham police and crime commission, for example. Chief of the police ‘service’ that arrested parents who were trying to rescue their own children. MPs who are are going to award themselves a £10,000 pay rise, but not just yet, ( about the only ‘after the next election pledge that will be honoured). Yes, these people are doing very well.

  13. Gary
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    offtopic: The march to war

    Reuters reports that preparations are
    under way near Ukraine’s
    western border for a joint
    military exercise this month with
    more than 1,000 troops from the
    United States and its allie s. As
    Obama told reporters last week,
    “that a military solution to this
    problem is not going to be
    forthcoming,” it seems a little
    odd ‘strategically’ to go ahead
    with the Rapid Trident exercise
    Sept. 16-26 as a sign of the
    commitment of NATO states to
    support non-NATO member
    Ukraine, entailing the first
    significant deployment of U.S.
    and other personnel to Ukraine
    since the crisis erupted

    • stred
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      Gary. As with Syria, it is time for MPs to put a stop to this insanity and incompetence. It is too dangerous to be left to fools.

  14. mickc
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Tesco and Morrisons felt they had to go “upmarket”. Fine if their core customers could also go upmarket, which during the boom they thought they could. Reality impacted with the bust, and both stores were selling products too expensive for the customers who had made them succesful.

    Football is slightly different in that what is being sold is the success of the team. Once it is unsuccesful, the actual products it sells, shirts and merchandise, are no longer as valued.

    For political parties, the “product” is a set of values with which the customer agrees. Once a party tries to sell something entirely different, it loses support.

    In all cases, the management must be changed for one which understands the problem. Seeking to change the customer too much is disastrous.

    • The Looney Right
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      Mick – Once a disparaging label is attached it is very difficult to brush off. Credibility is everything.

      The term ‘looney’ was once applied to left wing councils and their whacky PC ideals. Now it only applies to unreconstructed conservatives – they dare not even apply this to knife wielding jihadis.

      Quentin Letts is at it today in the Daily Mail.

      Apart from it being illegal to be a true Conservative it is deeply embarrassing to be one.

      • Bazman
        Posted September 4, 2014 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

        Its always been deeply embarrassing to be one. If you ask someone which party they vote for they usually go into some speech about their democratic right not to tell you or not being able to decide. Conservative then and to ashamed to admit it and so they should be with things like tax cuts for the rich, bedroom tax on the poor and a tax and VAT hike for the rest. The Scots do not want to be independent they want to sack the conservatives. “Simples” as many deluded conservatives say.

      • Aunty Estab
        Posted September 4, 2014 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

        Quentin Letts is a typical public schoolboy, anyone who`s view you don`t agree with is a “loony”, like a well known old Etonian who referred arrogantly to members of a rival political party as “loonies and fruitcakes” . Letts used to be very amusing but now thinks wit is mocking northern accents and the Speaker`s stature.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      mick,
      ” Seeking to change the customer too much is disastrous.”
      That appears to have been at least part of the objective of unlimited immigration supported by the three main parties in Westminster.

  15. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    And there was M&S….a very long continuous mess. Rose and what I cannot understand, Morrisons ex…Bolland. Failures.

    Such businesses need good managers and key staff. The key staff who recognise product and how they sell. PoS computers should easily tell them? Too many of the shelves in all supermarkets are full of items that I don’t think they should be selling. Morrisons has (clothes and electronics which this contributor think helped the decline ed), yet maintains its own farms and interesting bakeries. Keep to a main business…not wander. Tescos…no thanks.

    Small shops annihilated due to the pestilence within Supermarkets to sell most anything. The chance of good food ever diminishes, and it leaves most High St’s as replicas of the same old, same old.

    Football is something I have no interest in at all. Observation tends to indicate its over stuffed with money, thankfully not much of mine. Same again though – manager, trainer and team all with each eye on the opposer’s ball?. World Cup showed gaping holes in all 3.

  16. JM
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Tesco: I think that the explanation is very simple – the market is now saturated. There is only so much food we can buy. Tesco drove a lot of its growth through opening new stores in new locations. The opportunities to do that are now fast dwindling.

    Also the rise of Aldi and Lidl has had a huge impact. The fact is that they have a very good but very limited offer. There is little choice, but the products they sell are very good. By focusing on a small product range they can price keenly. As real incomes have been squeezed shoppers have sought out value. Small stores carry small overheads. The giant Tesco stores, once a strength, are now a millstone.

    What is for sure, however, is that what goes around will come around. Tesco will recover. Investors in the business, and all businesses generally, need to understand that it is simply not possible to have ever increasing profits and dividends. In a mature business, what one should be looking for is consistency of performance.

  17. stred
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Off subject. I had dinner with a Belgian couple last night who told me their biggest nuke has been closed down, probably after sabotage by staff. This has left a 3GW hole in the supply for a years and no replacement will be available during the still anti cyclonic freeze period, when wind stops working. They have been warned that power will have to be cut off for 6 hours at at time taking turns town by town. Gas and coal stations have been shut down.

    Nothing about this can be found on the BBC News when googling, but it does appear on reuters. Perhaps it is too tecchnical to be of interest, or perhaps abit too embarrassing for the green lobby and commissioners.

    • Ex-expat Colin
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      .

      Below is a cut from the recent National Grid request for consultation as regards this winters energy sources. Belgium figures in that and informs us we may loose supplies… Que LNG. Thats apart from Power Station incidents (Ironbridge etc) and a call for industry to shut down and/or supply diesel elect to the Grid.

      Potential UK Impact
      111. Although the UK does not receive significant quantities of gas from Russia, both our direct and indirect connections to European markets make it likely that UK gas supplies would alter as the market responds to any reduction of Russian imports.
      112. In the event of a disruption, the UK could see some reductions in imports from Norway (Langeled/Vesterled) and The Netherlands (BBL), with exports to Belgium (IUK) likely. To balance the reduction in imports and increase in demand, LNG imports would be expected to increase to cover the majority of the shortfall, although increased withdrawals from storage sites could also be possible depending on the level of UK demand.

    • Martyn G
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      It is about to happen right here in the UK – check the newspapers (e.g. D Mail). We are now promised 1970-type blackouts with companies being offered compensation for being shut down for certain periods of the day, presumably this coming winter. Which might well mean “Now is the winter of our discontent”,
      So, all governments having miserably failed to make proper plans (other than those driven by the mad green lefties who seem to want to push us back into the stone age) we all will now have to suffer for their rank incompetence. And they want us to vote them back into office come the next GE.
      I am now off out to buy a nice new generator – bye-bye…..

      • A different Simon
        Posted September 3, 2014 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

        Any indication that Westminster will lead by example and turn off the heating in the H.O.C. until they sort out energy security ?

    • stred
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Everything OK in Belgium now. They have found a gas power station in Holland just over the border and are going to run a cable over. It has been closed down but can be re started, providing they can get permission and pay the additional cost.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

      Stred,

      It’s amazing to see what else is left out of the BBC’s so-called ‘news’. Recently, there was a sizable demonstration right outside the BBC, complaining about their poor and biased coverage of the Gaza conflict, and the national state broadcaster didn’t even touch it. To entertain, to inform, and to educate. I’d say the BBC consistently fails on all three, so why have some state monopoly that doesn’t give the service it’s supposed to?

      The BBC costs me money, yet I get a better and more comprehensive account of the things that matter on the internet, and it doesn’t cost me a cent apart from my very modest ISP fee. The BBC’s a dinosaur.

      Tad

  18. bigneil
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    There has been two items I bought regularly at Tesco’s “deli counter” – now they have stopped doing them. Upon asking the staff why, the answer has been a bewildered – “they were two of our best sellers” – presumably they didn’t make enough profit out of them.

  19. oldtimer
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    In football it is clear that outstanding managers do make a difference – provided the owner(s) do(es) not interfere too much with the team. Ferguson and Mourinho provide the evidence for that, each having created a series of successful winning teams. I would also include Arsene Wenger in that category because he has been an astute buyer and seller of players in a spendthrift league as well as defining his teams by his style of football.

    In football the results, good, bad or indifferent, come quickly for all to see. They occur in a closed environment of defined competition. This makes it tough for new entrants.

    In business it is open ended; there is no defined league, no season, no end to the game – it just goes on and on, 24/7.

    Foreign competition is free to enter the UK market and does – which is partly the reason for the pressure on the established UK supermarkets. UK businesses that decide to compete abroad quickly discover that the challenges multiply. UK based retail businesses have, for the most part, not been very successful in adapting to other markets. It remains to be seen how well they respond to the new low cost entrants in the UK. Perhaps the Tesco Board has been smart to recuit its new CEO from Unilever, a successful international business, and not from the narrower world of UK retail.

    Those businesses that do succeed abroad do so by building strong niche product positions, and by building the financial resilience needed to absorb and adapt to the shocks that will confront any business trading around the world. They must master many markets, not just one, each with their distinctive characteristics. There are many UK businesses that do just this, many in the service industries and some in manufacturing. The Rolls Royce aero engine business is an outstanding example of the latter. I get the feeling, from the policies they have put in place, that the ruling political class has little knowledge or understanding of just what is involved in running such businesses.

    In business they take longer

    • oldtimer
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      Please ignore the last line which I failed to edit out!

    • Gerald Guersten
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      It’s a different world. Industries change with dynamic forces. UK retail is going through a process of dynamic change – retail is not the most complex business in the world, pretending it is is just absurd. Rolls Royce has far more barriers to entry in terms of technological savvy. But people at Tesco will lose jobs, many jobs. And that will lead to opportunities elsewhere.

      I would actually be interested to see how this could be leveraged in the Public Sector where in dealing with it, you are just facing levels of incompetence and bureaucracy at times that would are quite staggering – Jobcentres being an obvious example – completely dysfunctional and an obvious huge moneymaking opportunity as a service.

      Doug Carswell has many ideas on how this could work – his book the death of Politics and the birth of iDemocracy puts government creep into a historical context. I don’t have time for UKIP, but I would be interested to hear John Redwood’s views on how this can be leveraged in the public sector – it is the biggest challenge in the current era and it really is not difficult to facilitate. If businesses fail they go bust. If services fail in the public sector you just spend more.

  20. forthurst
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Undoubedly, the seeds of Tesco’s decline were set under the previous CEO, hence his decision to quit. Tesco’s pre-eminence in the UK was based rather more on its blanket geographical coverage, built over several decades, than its superior product offering; in order to have a successful global brand, either produce should be sold on price based on superior purchasing and logistics or sold on high priced (purportedly unique) quality. Tesco barged into various foreign markets without understanding either local preferences or the strength of local competition. Meanwhile, German discounters pitched camp in their backyard whose premise was that rather than offering twenty thousand brands, often of differently badged similar products, they would offer a tenth of that range whose quality was uncompromised; of course, the discounters can negotiate strongly on price with suppliers in return for larger and longer run contracts which they can pass on to customers.
    Many shoppers have found they spend much less time shopping in a discounter than a major like Tesco which is now lumbered with overlarge premises in out-of-town locations.

  21. Posted September 3, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Not sure about Man Utd but my feeling about Tesco is that:

    1. It reduced its food technicians and quality assurance staffing, relying instead on written guarantees from suppliers and standards that were (supposedly) underwritten by eu regulations. This resulted, in my opinion, in poorer quality products

    2. It made the fatal mistake of relying on tried and tested systems, store designs and pricing policy without noticing that the world around it was changing and the discounters were on its tail.

    3. Quite some years ago (on Leahy’s watch) it expanded overseas. Some of these investments were questionable and some indeed backfired. I always thought that Tesco should have invested in catering instead, where it could have used its tremendous buying power. I remember that Little Chef was available for purchase at one time. Why didn’t Tesco buy them when it had the chance?

    It should never be forgotten that retailers are merely traders with a relatively low skilled workforce and very little or no manufacturing or plant. The people with the skills and plant are the producers. The people with the money are the customers. One fine day we may see these two groups making contact, bypassing the middle men, and rendering the large supermarket buildings as white elephants. A trader middle-man taking a huge margin is not sustainable in the long term and I am sure that something will soon happen on that front.

  22. cosmic
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    My local Tesco was a sensibly sized store with a good choice of foodstuffs, all on one level and easy to walk round. I always used it.

    It was replaced with a Tesco superstore, where even the food area is a lot to walk round and you have to go up an escalator to get into the store. It now sells clothes, tools and gardening equipment etc, but mainly cheap and nasty stuff in those areas. The foodstuffs in Tesco don’t seem particularly cheap.

    Then they are competing with pound stores for a lot of things like shampoo, batteries and cheap tools, and very often it’s the same brands.

    I’d rather go to the local Lidl for food basics. Limited choice, very good prices and some of the things they do are excellent by any standards. Easy parking and access, small enough to get round quickly and special offers, which are always amusing at least.

    Then there are small towns where Tesco are overcoming local opposition to impose themselves.

    I’d say that Tesco are overblown and have lost sight of what their business is really about and what their customers want.

    • Kenneth R Moore
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      In my own town the Tesco store is very crowded and always very busy – it’s a small town serving a growing community. When a rival supermarket closed down nearby , Tesco bought the property and have done absolutely nothing with the building for the last 7 years.
      Many locals claim Tesco bought the site to prevent a rival chain getting a foothold in the town.

  23. Gerald Guersten
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Great management thrives in well run organisations and propitious circumstances. But times change and dominance in one era does not foretell dominance in another – as Jeff Bezos has noted – Amazon will one day be undone by a new upstart/s and the job of management is to keep that at bay for as long as possible.

    United faced huge disruptive forces in the face of Chelsea and latterly Man City with more money. Ferguson was famous for eschewing the as he saw it extravagant purchases of the latter in favour of seeking value elsewhere. But what has been going on at Man City has been a whole lot deeper than extravagant purchases. It is the instilment of a footballing culture around the club which is taking shape in the biggest and finest footballing academy in the country. By a huge margin. You may beat such forces some of the time. You may beat them for a while. But in the end you will lose and Ferguson’s title run of 2012/13 was an obvious over achievement. He knew the time to leave and failed to plan for succession. The result – now it is Utd who are spending all the money and City who are looking conservative in comparison.

    Tesco face huge disruptive forces of another kind. It is a well known adage that you are weakest when you appear strongest – the £1bn wasted on a misguided entrance into the US market was deemed highly risky/ reckless by many at the time. But in the domestic market they also face the challenge of innumerable market entrants facilitated by technology advances and the low cost entrants. With 30% market share to defend this is an insuperable obstacle – being big in retail is not the advantage it is in football. Times change, markets develop and consumer sophistication is greater than any one retail business can provide. Tesco is facing the very situation that Jeff Bezos fears. It needs to manage that decline effectively rather than take decisions against the flow of market dynamics.

    That is the beauty of sport and business. There are a lot of smart people out there who are capable. It is not just the Terry Leahys and Alex Fergusons who get to dominate a position at huge companies who can succeed. There are many ways of doing it and the world is changing fast. Huge entities like Utd and Tesco particularly may be dominant in one period. It is a very vulnerable place to be with fast changing dynamics.

  24. Posted September 3, 2014 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    It’s all about alpha – people put their money in hedge funds because they want their money to be managed by a particular individual, who has demonstrated consistent performance in achieving above-average investment returns.

    The same applies to venture capital investment. Venture capitalists back the jockey, not the horse. They have been known to back a failed entrepreneur for a second time, because of the entrepreneur’s skills and personal character, knowing that getting the business right is about luck and hence the entrepreneur will, over time, achieve success.

    In business, as in politics, it is often the individual leader who makes all the difference.

  25. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Capable managers also know when is the right time to get out – I suspect Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Trevor Leahy knew which way the wind was blowing and bailed out.

    In the case of Tesco, they and the other players have completely saturated the food retailing market now so there is no room for expansion. We have seen Tesco kitchens, Tesco Used cars, Tesco ….. which have seen limited success. I don’t think the brand is as strong as it was and the new management must take responsibility for this.

  26. Brane
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    The reason I no longer like to shop in Tescos is that I totally dislike having to be on my guard over their prices – manipulated “discounts”, multi-buy discounts when I only want one of the item, products where the larger size is often more expensive than buying two of the half-size version, loads of vouchers for things I don’t want, etc. OK, they are not the only large supermarket chain that indulges in these practices, but no- one does it like them. All I want is everyday, straightforward and honest pricing, so I go elsewhere.

  27. Tad Davison
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Monopolies generally are a bad thing. They can stifle competition and drive standards down. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, as in the case of military, political, and financial monopolies. These all-powerful monopolies feel they can do pretty much what they want, and it’s the weakest who ultimately pay the price.

    I like choice and value for money. The smaller retailers are making inroads into Tesco’s share of the market because they often do more for less. I don’t however agree with a race to the bottom. I don’t believe I should pay marginally less for cheaper bananas to augment my own relatively comfortable lifestyle, when it drives down the living standards of those who produce them (and supporters of the EU should take a good, long, look at that particular market to see how and why it isn’t working).

    There has to be a minimum below which no man can sink. That isn’t to say they shouldn’t do anything to contribute to it. I am convinced the goal of full employment and a consequent acceptable living standard for everyone is attainable, but totalitarianism, communism, socialism, and fascism has a poor past record of delivering that ideal. The EU doesn’t appear to be delivering that wholly attainable concept either, but that is hardly surprising, it’s riddled with all of the above in a very nepotistic way.

    Carrying on from yesterday’s topic, the US doesn’t work as it could, and as it should either. Not whist there is third-world poverty upon its streets, so that model is to be avoided also. Yet we in the UK presently have the chance to show the world how it could be, and I’m not saying for a moment that our past models have been particularly good and we should return to them. I don’t harken for another subjugated empire, but I do harken for honesty, equality, and the chance for everyone to get on in life. Yet I am saddened to say, none of the three main Westminster parties seem capable of delivering either.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

    • Anonymous
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Tad – Let’s just settle for sorting out our own little country, eh ?

      (We do have third world poverty here, btw.)

      • Tad Davison
        Posted September 3, 2014 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

        I hear ya and I agree we need to do something about the appalling levels of poverty here at home, but we could actually facilitate that process by creating useful markets abroad by improving the standard of living in under-developed countries, and thus, their purchasing power. That would ultimately benefit our own poor folk as we could export to them and create more jobs.

        But we need a different political direction. What we have now has failed big time. It has created a state of almost perpetual war. It has also created too much of a social divide between rich and poor, and an all-powerful elite, but too many politicians just go along with it, content to feed off the gravy train, and they’re scared stiff to rock the boat. What ever happened to politics of conviction?

        The heads of the corporations like to try to persuade us they are capitalists, but they’re really just monopolistic oligarchs who manipulate the system to make themselves evermore wealthy, and the divide then gets bigger still. They exploit the resources of other countries, particularly the ones that are pitifully under-developed, and the indigenous populace sees little benefit. It stinks to high heaven, but they’re not just robbing those from poorer countries and condemning them to impoverishment, they are robbing us too by preventing the creation of the markets I mention above in countries we could otherwise trade with. Monopolies are bad, bad news, and in some cases, they’re downright dangerous.

        Tad

  28. agricola
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    I only visit the UK occasionally and visit Tesco while there. My verdict is that they are a bit like the curates egg, good in parts. My comments relate to what I buy as I have no experience of what the majority of their customers expect.

    In the current economic climate I believe they are loosing out to the Aldi and Lidl chains based on price. Any supermarket normally only stocks what they believe their customers want to buy. The impression I get is that people in the UK want pre-prepared meals of varying quality because they perceive this as convenient. Obviously all those TV cooking programmes are having little effect. It is interesting to match what the customer in front has on the moving belt and relate it to their BMI. It is often the case that they are not doing themselves any favours.

    Tesco in terms of fresh fruit and vegetables are excellent, they compare well in terms of range and variety with any thing I have experienced here in Spain. They seem to be obsessed with having everything available year round whereas in Spain the produce tends to be seasonal. Their other obsession is uniformity of shape and colour at the expense of flavour.

    The two areas where Tesco fail miserably is with meat and fish. Last time I was in England , Tesco were making a big issue of some of their beef being hung for 21 days. In my judgement 21-28 days should be the norm for beef. UK customers would be well advised to visit their local butcher where they seem to know more about meat.

    Tesco’s fish counters are a joke in comparison with supermarkets in Spain and their prices on internationally available produce are a total rip off. In Tesco the counter is about six feet square, in Carrefour it is thirty feet long. In Carrefour they can prepare fillets from sea bass, salmon, tuna , shark, swordfish et al. The girls behind the counter are doing it all the time. It’s an education watching them prepare a monk fish.

    To give an example of what I see as rip off, let’s concentrate on prawns. Forget about the lobsters, crabs both brown , spinney, and small, the oysters , mussels, and clams normally available and in many varieties. Prawns in Carrefour come from the Far East or South America so they are available to any supermarket that cares to buy them. In Tesco they try to sell you ones about the size of my thumb for in excess of £20 per kilo. In Carrefour I can buy ones with meaty bodies around four inches long for between Euros 8.50 and 10.50 a kilo. That is £6.80 to £8.40 a kilo. That is what I call a rip off.

    One other area where Tesco deserve praise is in their wine department. One can buy it from all over the World whereas in Carrefour , Mercadona, or Mas y Mas it is 95% Spanish. Good though Spanish wine can be , I really have to search for Oyster Bay. There is no point in comparing prices because I suspect that the high ones in the UK are largely due to the government kick back.

    I do not know what the answer for Tesco is, perhaps re-alignment with the market place, and a concentration on customer service, bag packing and escorting it all to the car would be a good start. In house restaurants that introduce customers to store produce at reasonable prices, rather than farming them out to expensive coffee shops. It will be interesting to observe the process.

  29. Julian
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    I find Tesco’s drop in sales a bit puzzling as they have not changed anything substantial from what was a winning formula. It looks the same, is laid out the same and has similar prices and offers as before. Probably just more competition. Are people so shallow that they need endless novelty to buy tea, cabbages and frozen peas?

    Man United’s problem is much more striaghtforwward – they have failed to invest sufficiently in top players in the last 4-5 years and are now rectifying that problem.

  30. Robert K
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Great leaders also know how to get out at the top.

  31. Max Dunbar
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    If the Conservative Party were viewed as a business how would you rate its performance in the politics market over the last 4 year period?
    Has the membership (shareholders) increased or decreased? Have donations grown or declined? Has the customer base expanded or contracted? Have the leadership planned ahead and have they moved the business in a direction that will keep it ahead of the competition and attract more customers? Do the shareholders have confidence in the management at present? Does the chief executive say and do the things that the shareholders voted him in to carry out?

    • oldtimer
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Conservative party membership has dropped sharply, as has that of the other long-established parties I believe. Declining voter turnout is a second measure of failure. UKIP is doing better as a relative start-up party and seems to be able persuade some people back to casting their votes in elections because they offer something different on an issue that concerns them. They could cause an upset in the next GE.

  32. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Removing Heads of Companies, CEOs , COOs and other abbreviations is a favourite option as with Neaderthals in getting rid of UG Big Spear in favour of LUG Long Lance. A way of uniting cave-dwellers and the more advanced mudhutters with Alpha Male at the fore.

    People are sometimes, well always actually, fickle. For example they will dine and wine at a lovely country pub for an age then think ” Oh let’s try The Blue Wellington Boot for a change! ” Even though they were well pleased with their original victuals, but will no doubt find their new venue growing greener grass and turn a blind eye to the odd cowpat.

    MPs too, to be fair to all parties , lose sometimes their belov-ed seat not because they were inefficient or not hardworking but simply because people demand and want Change albeit that Change can actually mean standing still or being Conservative whilst the world changes to the bad on all sides.

    A company is not a football team nor indeed a country pub nor a writing-desk.
    Tesco has not failed, is not failing. Competition in discount stores arise from time to time and then recede. The plain fact is, wholesale food suppliers are in tiny amount in the UK. The discounters can only discount for a while and their grass will brown with age. Tesco will continue riding the storm in the teacup.

    When the economy in reality starts to boom and is not dependent on borrowed money and printed money and hype then Tesco will impress again and the kids at the top can continue with their games of musical chairs or to keep my original metaphor unmixed: UG and LUG can continue to stir the tribe.

  33. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Compare the leadership of Tesco with that of the Conservative party.

    The Conservative Party brand is in decline with membership falling. Nobody seems to quite know what it stands for anymore. A bit like Tesco really. Aldi and Lidl have stolen it’s clothes just as Mr Cameron’s modern Conservatives has vacated the popular spot where Ukip stands.

    Organisations tend to fail when they do not listen to people at all levels- a bit like the remote Conservative leadership sofa dictating unpopular policy few agree with.
    For example, the re-introduction of European arrest warrant. Mr Cameron should know by now that finding out what plays out well over his dinner table with a few like minded chums isn’t a good way to run a country. Mr Cameron has eroded the Cornerstones of Conservativism hollowing out the party with this approach.
    .
    Perhaps a wise Mp should learn the lessons of Ferguson & Leahy – it’s better to get out early than take the heat when things go wrong.

  34. Dennis
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    If Tesco is still in the red , albeit at a reduced level then it should not be considered a problem. Why should profits rise for ever? This is unsustainable obviously. Wanting continuing rises in profits indicates a warped mind. Many people are never satisfied.

    • Anonymous
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      The same for perpetual economic growth, Denis.

      • Anonymous
        Posted September 3, 2014 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        Dennis – sorry.

    • APL
      Posted September 3, 2014 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      Dennis: “Wanting continuing rises in profits indicates a warped mind. Many people are never satisfied.”

      I sympathise with that point of view, but it assumes the government isn’t busily destroying the purchasing power of the £ sterling with its inflationary policies.

      In order to make the same inflation adjusted return on an investment, you need to return more devalued pounds.

  35. Atlas
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    John,

    I’ve hardly shopped at Tesco. The few times I had to look inside I found the prices not particularly competitive. If I want good service I goto Waitrose – a very civilized place, if I want cheaper prices (but take care to check you are comparing like with like) I go to Lidl.

  36. Roy Grainger
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    I suppose Tescos has been damaged by Lidl in the same way M&S has been by Primark – many people like cheap things of adequate quality instead of more expensive things of slightly better quality, in trying to compete on price the established players then damage their brand. I still shop at Tescos though – in my part of London the wealthy Guardian readers drivel on about loathing supermarkets and shoppping in small local independent shops instead, however I have no interest in buying a rubbery old carrot of unknown origin and getting short-changed for my trouble.

  37. Martin
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Shoppers voting with their purses and wallets for Aldi and Lidl.

  38. APL
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    An incentive I’d like to see.

    Any company that has had to ask the government for financial assistance should lose its limited liability status. It’s chief executives and directors should be required to accept unlimited liability for the actions of the company.

    If that was the case, perhaps we’d not hear about RBS being fined £15,0000,000 by the FCA for cheating its mortgage customers.

    Which incidentally, was an utterly pointless exercise, since the FCA and RBS are just different arms of the British government.

  39. Javelin
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    I think the explanation lies outside the entities but at the heart of market economics.

    The competition caught up.

  40. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    No, there is a crucial difference. Ferguson, comparatively strapped for cash and coming to the end of his time, was a year late in rejuvenating his team. Leahy, awash with cash, made a strategic error by expanding into the US in the wrong way (not the first businessman to make this mistake).

  41. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    (Correction please delete earlier post – that wasn’t meant as a comment on my host!) (From great men to a not so great man)) – it looks as if Mr Cameron might have lost Scotland from the Union. Why did he leave it to the Labour party to head up the ‘No’ campaign – it’s not like they have a particularly distinguished record of preserving our parliamentary democracy, institutions and history. Why did Mr Cameron permit the gift of allowing under 18′s to vote ?.
    I’d be interested to hear Dr Redwood’s view on Mr Cameron’s handling of the Scottish referendum.

  42. Bazman
    Posted September 4, 2014 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Lets not knock Tesco to much they provide some very adequate clothes for children and work clothes and have enabled me to clothe my 8 year old daughter in almost disposable clothes which as they grow just seem to go through every couple of months. The discounters have a keen eye on this I have read.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page