It doesn't look as if the speculation surrounding the future ownership of Sainsbury's is going to go away. If the latest reports are to be believed, a number of parties are acquiring stakes in the business on the basis of the value of the property portfolio. Whatever the outcome, the potential impact on the business should not be underestimated. Continuing speculation will be extremely difficult to manage and will not be positive for the business or its customers. It will also present a window of opportunity for competitors to exploit.
Sainsbury's recent sales revival has been based on improving availability, better prices and a rigorous focus on the range and quality of the core food offer. Managing these issues requires an intense day-to-day focus from all levels of management within the business. The longer speculation continues the harder it will be to retain the intensity that is required to stay at the top of your game on these core basics.
Beyond day-to-day management, strategies for medium-term range planning and seasonal management can suffer as well. Suppliers of products and services second -guess the impact of potential changes and adjust focus accordingly. Meanwhile, competitors can concentrate entirely on their stores and their customers.
And they need to concentrate to keep up with developments in a rapidly developing market.
A recent visit to the food market at Harvey Nichols demonstrated to me how fast product and packaging are evolving to meet changing customer demands.
Across product categories there is a refreshing breadth of quality and distinctiveness to the product offer - outstanding fresh sticky toffee puddings, organic frozen pastry and an attractive range of pasta and pasta sauces. The core grocery offer is backed up by great fresh meat, deli and patisserie counters and the Easter ranges are refreshingly different.
Clearly Harvey Nichols is able to do things that others can't but there is enough imagination in its food hall to inspire anyone in the grocery trade.
I hope the current speculation around Sainsbury's does not distract them from continuing to innovate and that the retailer is able to see beyond it and protect the future of the brand. That is however easier said than done.