So much has been written regarding the demise of Philip Clarke and the new David Lewis era at Tesco that you may be tired of it by now. However, do not underestimate just how seismic a shift this is for a business that still commands about £1 in every £8 spent on all UK retail spending. The new man and his new FD will have little accountability for the 2014/15 results. As a result, expect them to ‘kitchen sink’ Christmas with potentially the mother of all price battles to win back short-term customer loyalty and buy themselves the time to put into place a fully thought-through strategic plan.
That new plan will undoubtedly be both highly brand and consumer-centric, given the Unilever DNA now injected into the Tesco business. We may even see the re-emergence of the creative side of the commercial division so ruthlessly culled and shackled by the previous regime.
With his big brand experience and credentials, Lewis will want to embrace the creative and value building energies of the supply base. Possibly more collaborative, less ‘gun to the head’ approach than that currently being deployed by the buying teams.
Despite his well-publicised failings, Clarke has succeeded in evolving Tesco into the first truly multi-format, multichannel mega-retailer. Lewis will surely embrace this, put strategic rigour around the good but slightly haphazard thinking of the old guard and drive it faster and further.
As a consequence, the up-and-coming JBP season presents suppliers with an opportunity to help shape and embrace the new approach. Buying teams will be keen to impress the new man with creative ideas - not just margin delivery plans. And they will want ideas from suppliers as to how to get back to beyond the magic 30% market share and nullify the potent value messages from Aldi and Lidl.
Embrace the new platforms in your plans. Help in leading their thinking into the brave new world. This is potentially your chance to take a break from the annual obsession with that debilitating and sometimes destructive margin year-end debate to something more strategic, long term, value-creating, consumer-focused and in the end profitable for both you and Tesco - a truly JOINT business plan!