Sir: The latest round of talk about closer collaboration with suppliers made me smile. Many relationship-hungry suppliers reserve insight and innovation for the Tesco account - only to find disappointment around the corner.
Tesco’s behaviour then backfires, as suppliers become cautious and only prepared to tweak a generic category plan.
This latest wave of ‘being nice’ fits perfectly with Tesco’s periodical ‘power plays’ and suppliers should be guarded.
Oh - but ‘this time it’s serious,’ I hear. So last time it wasn’t? ‘This time it’s going to be contracted.’ Every year joint contracts with major customers are disregarded when targets are missed. Suppliers are pressured to pay up anyway, and not many dare withhold.
To overcome suppliers’ reticence and get true commitment there needs to be a major change in approach, but my efforts to remove barriers to openness have met with a ‘we’ll call you’ response.
Is Tesco brave enough to bridge the divide between top-level talk and buyer-level tactics and be judged on its commitment and behaviour?
I’m waiting for the call.
David Sables, chief executive officer, Sentinel Management Consultants