Dave Lewis’ letter to Tesco staff on day one in the hot seat

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On his first day in the job as Tesco CEO, Dave Lewis has sent a welcome note to staff, reproduced below.

Dave Lewis

Dave Lewis started as Tesco CEO today, one month earlier than expected

Dear colleagues,

Today is my first day at Tesco, and so I wanted to write to you all to tell you a bit about me, and my initial plans as I start work as your new Chief Executive.

The most important thing I want to tell you is that I couldn’t be more excited to be joining Tesco. It’s an honour and a privilege to be asked to lead such a world-class and important business.

As you may know, I worked for Unilever for 27 years and so I got to know Tesco well from the perspective of being one of its largest suppliers. I’ve always had an enormous admiration for Tesco, its people and its expertise.

I’ve met and worked with many Tesco people over the years, and so I know the hard work and dedication which is a hallmark of this business. I’m proud to be leading a team of half a million talented and committed people around the world. In our DNA we have always been the customers’ champion, and we will be again.

“You will know only too well that it has not been an easy time for our business”

You will know only too well that it has not been an easy time for our business. The retail market in all the countries where we operate has become extremely tough, and is changing faster than ever. We are losing market share in our largest market and we need to address this with urgency.

The most important thing is that we all focus on being on top of our game. We need to keep it simple and customer focused. I know periods of change can be unsettling, but we have to take our destiny in our own hands and be absolutely focused on delivering the best possible experience for our customers. She or he will reward us if we constantly put them first.

I am looking forward to getting around the business and doing a lot of listening. In my first few days I will be talking to colleagues at Welwyn and Cheshunt directly, and visiting as many of our businesses and stores as possible - listening to our customers and meeting as many of you as I can. I will also be meeting some of our shareholders and investment analysts.

I will be taking some time to get to know the business better, to understand the challenges and opportunities we face. I’ll be looking at all parts of the business. Clearly we all want to see an improvement in performance, but I won’t take any hasty decisions. The decisions I take will be based on what’s best for customers, for shareholders, for colleagues, and hence the whole Tesco business. We have some urgent issues to deal with, but we must address these in a way which is consistent with building a long-term sustainable future.

I will always communicate openly and transparently with you and I’d like to encourage the same from you in return. I want to hear your thoughts and ideas. I want to hear what you think we could do differently or better. Hopefully we will get a chance to do this in person, but for the sake of immediacy please send any comments or ideas to me by email.

I want to pay tribute to Philip [Clarke]. Over a 40-year career in Tesco he has been a key figure in making Tesco the business it is today, and in his time as Chief Executive he has steered the business through the toughest conditions the sector has ever experienced. I would like to also thank him personally for the very professional way he has managed, and continues to manage, the transition.

These are challenging times, but we will emerge stronger. With a relentless focus on our customers and a preparedness to challenge ourselves and take bold decisions we can retain our position as the customers’ champion. This is a great business made up of great people, with real expertise and I am confident that together we can succeed.

I know I can count on your support, and I’m looking forward to working with you.


Do you work for Tesco? What do you think Dave Lewis should do first? Let us now here or in the comments below.

Readers' comments (37)

  • Tesco have been blinded by their own BS, first it was "The recession" now it's "Shrink" but actually it's down to being greedy. too busy opening a store on every corner of a town. ,com has progressed woo hoo it's the future of the business, but lets not worry about the customers who get off their backside and come into the shop itself. between 5 and 2 they have to deal with 30 odd pickers round the shop, come after that there's nothing on the shelf till the next day. Empty shelves from 2pm.. that's disgusting, and you wonder why the company isn't doing so well?

    Tesco is heading the same place as Gateway. If you don't start listening to the staff and carry on listening to those behind a screen in an office, you'll be lucky to last another decade

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  • The problems are quite simple really, the prices are always inflated way above normal prices a few weeks before they put them on promotion. Customers are not stupid and can see this happens all the time. The staff have become dejected and many are now rude to customers. Customer service is non exsistant and the queues at till get longer.

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  • There is no more money in the supply of simple products to consumers, the internet has seen to that. If tesco wants to survive it has to fundamentally change its business from 'stack high and sell cheap' to investing in healthcare and banking services.

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  • We just want the time & resources to deliver excellent service in our store. The previous CEO thought he could keep cutting the money to stores & still achieve the levels of service our customers deserve. I hope beyond hope that Mr Lewis will see that this makes no sense. Stop the stupid 'initiatives' and ridiculously childish training material that seems to be aimed at Key Stage 2 age. We know how to serve our customers patiently, thoughtfully, and with a smile. Mr Lewis - invest in us & we will deliver for our customers.

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  • I hope that Dave Lewis focuses more on the stores that the previous CEO and realises that making cut backs by not replacing staff is a wrong choice. Having noticeably less staff in the stores and expecting the same high standards as before is never going to happen. This is more pressure for the remaining staff which results in a very low morale and higher absense figures, which subsequently results in unhappy customers who cannot buy the products they want and are met with miserable employees with no passion left for their job. Less staff does not save money it loses money! I hope Mr. Lewis recognises this.

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  • Tesco needs to take a look at where others have failed. Coop nearly went bust because they didn't feel the need to have professionals in the senior management team.

    In desperation they sold a grocery retailer's best asset. If they cannot make vertical integration work they don't deserve to be in business.

    Dave Lewis should grasp vertical integration as fast as possible to shorten supply chains and make them transparent. Working in partnership with suppliers and applying Fairtrade principles to UK suppliers will pay dividends.

    We, of course, could really help with vertical integration. One day retailers will be seeing their hardest to transport and most perishable produce growing on their rooftops. It should come as no surprise that 60% of bagged salads end up wasted - they are 3 days old by the time they reach the store. Together with us Tesco could give those 3 days to the consumer - and have a better quality product at a lower cost and a much smaller carbon footprint.

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  • Firstly I would like to say that i wish you good luck in steering this big business back to the leading supermarket, I have tried to get to the bigger roles and I have have not had the opportunity to do, dispute I have had 7 green review and one amber and I feel your held back in the company just to make your current store manager look good, despite we could offer more to the business then just in store, example if we delivering the business and always doing it right , but if we where promoted on the right merit and put in a bigger role we might start getting a stronger business

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  • I have had an issue with Tesco for over 3 months now. It started when I pointed out that some of the nutritional information shown on their website was incorrect. In spite of repeated assurances it would be corrected, it is still there. There excuse was that the IT department were unable to make the correction to simple piece of text.
    In the end I told them if they didn't sort it out, I would leave. So, after 30 years as a customer, I have. Now Sainsbury's is getting my £12k pa.
    My suggestion, sack the incompetent IT department and stop lying to customers.

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  • For all our sake we need 'Dave' to succeed, a world dominated by the Germany 'Discounters' isn't good. Time to really focus on the customer rather than shareholders, that will come later. My first move would be to remove the 'Value' brand, often poor quality and no value, repositioning the 'Tesco' brand to be cheapest on display and best 'value'.

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  • Smaller stores - 'just up your street' in rural towns and villages replacing those village enterprises that have been closed down through 'out of town' gargantuan outlets.. This would save on carbon emissions, offer greater convenience to the elderly shoppers and the busy working mums and dads.
    And food should be priced at a level that is consistent with the larger outlets - a positive reason to shop locally rather than the premium prices currently levied in the smaller shops.

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