After all the grim headlines and gloomy analysts’ comments, it’s easy to forget Tesco is still the UK’s number one grocer. The retailer has much to commend it and help it through these testing times and even if rivals seem to be catching up, it is still out in front.

I’m a fan - I’ve had a Tesco Clubcard since I could walk and every Saturday, I pass the big Sainsbury’s at Nine Elms to reach my nearest Tesco. But my loyalty has been tested recently: imperfect availability of some core products, checkout queues and less than enthusiastic service mean I’ve been playing away on weeknights with my neighbour (that’s the Sainsbury’s, in case you’re in any doubt).

Tesco’s critics say its financial woes, when compared to the glory years under Sir Terry Leahy, reveal it has lost the golden touch. I think it’s like a ring doughnut: an attractive, tasty prospect on the outside, with fancy frosting to tempt investors and customers - such as Harris & Hoole and the relaunch of F&F - but with a hole at its centre.

The retailer has some weighty problems to fix. I’m not alone in my frustration about availability, as demonstrated recently in one London customer’s witty blog about empty shelves that quickly (and embarrassingly) went viral. Meanwhile, in comparison to class leader Sainsbury’s, colleague engagement and customer service need some TLC.

And yet, there is still so much about Tesco that rivals envy. It has a well-integrated online and in-store business model. It has an excellent click & collect service and has established a successful local format. It has also implemented market-leading integration between its grocery business and its wider portfolio of services.

Another plus is that the plan to improve colleague engagement seems to be well underway: on my last store visit I received charming service from a colleague, who handed me a card asking “How have I done today?” With this type of initiative and better use of Clubcard data to identify at store level the products that need to be on shelves, I believe Tesco will soon be seeing the green shoots of recovery, despite what the doom-mongers say.

Patrick Woodall is chief executive of Pragma