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Jekyll and Hyde Tesco

Robert Peston | 09:09 UK time, Tuesday, 30 October 2007

The two faces of Tesco are: 1) a great British success story built on a fearsome determination to win in a competitive market, to the great benefit of consumers; 2) a monster with excessive market share, which takes over entire towns and squeezes suppliers till the pips squeak.

Tesco storeSo has the Competition Commission seen Jekyll Tesco or Hyde Tesco, during its 17-month investigation of the groceries market?

My sense is that it regards Jekyll Tesco as the dominant personality but that the preliminary findings (due to be published tomorrow) will be seen as curbing some of Hyde Tesco’s allegedly noxious habits.

That said, Tesco will not be singled out for special treatment by the commission. The recommendations will apply to all the big supermarket chains.

But because of the way that Tesco has acquired very large market shares in many towns and districts, inevitably it will be most affected by proposed reforms.

For me, the big story out of the commission’s report will be an attempt to give all of us a greater choice of supermarkets in our local areas.

And the debate it may spark is whether we actually want more supermarkets, whether the benefits of greater competition outweigh what many see as the negative impact on communities and landscape of superstore proliferation.

The commission believes that Tesco’s large national market share is not a particular problem, even if it does take one in every three pounds we spend in supermarkets.

More relevant is that only about a third of us have three superstores within relatively easy reach of us.

Some of us will see that as a blessing. But for proponents of competition, that’s a sign of inadequate competitive tension in some parts of the country.

How can it be corrected?

Well I would expect some technical proposals from the commission that could have far-reaching consequences.

It is likely, for example, to say that supermarket groups should be prohibited from buying up land near to an existing store and then sitting on it undeveloped for years with the intent of preventing a competitor from muscling in.

So supermarket groups may be forced to sell off those chunks of their so-called land banks that are competition-spoilers.

And it is also likely that there’ll be a ban on the groups’ use of restrictive covenants whose point is to prevent any parcel of land being developed by a competitor.

As the biggest holder of land, Tesco is bound to be seen as the most at risk here.

There may also be quite good news for Tesco’s competitors, in that I would expect the commission to agree with Kate Barker – the economist who advised Gordon Brown when chancellor on reform of the planning system – that the so-called “needs test” should be abolished. The needs test is a stipulation that new retailing capacity should only be developed in a locality if there is a demonstrable need for it, irrespective of competitive issues.

But if local competition is the big thing, who should decide whether Poole or Perth needs a new Sainsbury or a new Asda? Should it be the local authority?

Well the commission will probably say that its sister competition authority, the Office of Fair Trading, should have a wider role going forward.

The commission may argue that the distinction between a supermarket group buying an existing supermarket and buying property should be abolished, and that the OFT should have a role assessing the implications of each kind of deal – which would be logical.

Interestingly, however, the commission thinks that the groups’ superstores and their convenience stores operate in separate markets. It believes shoppers use small shops for motives and purposes that are very different from those they have when going to a huge supermarket. Which sounds a bit odd to me, but that’s what the research suggests.

Anyway it means, for example, that in assessing whether there are enough Tesco superstores in Bicester, its umpteen little shops there would not be regarded as a particularly important factor.

And what about the poor beleaguered suppliers? Well the Competition Commission did not come up with evidence that they are being systematically mistreated, in spite of trawling through thousands of e-mails sent by buyers at the big chains.

What’s more, to state the obvious, when suppliers provide supermarkets with more stuff at a cheaper price, that is in theory good news for shoppers.

But the commission can’t ignore the widespread belief that suppliers are being bullied and bashed up – and that they are just too frightened of retribution to squeal.

So there may be some changes to the code of practice governing relations between producer and supermarket.

And the commission will suggest, but only as one possible option, that an ombudsman could be appointed, to whom suppliers could take their complaints.

It’s the British way: if in doubt, create a new watchdog or ombudsman.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 09:38 AM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Jason Ayres wrote:

Hi, I live in Bicester and as a Tesco shopper both here and formerly elsewhere find the situation here far from ideal.

There is a marked comparison between the levels of service here and availability of items compared to Tesco stores in nearby towns and cities.

One of the most frustrating issues is that regarding special offers, such as buy one get one free offers and half price wines. Invariably these lines are out of stock in the Bicester stores. I can only assume that they do not order any extra stock in, so what is available soon goes. This simply would not happen at the Oxford store which has a large Sainsbury down the road.

I have also found the customer service levels to be well below par in the town's second largest store (of approximately six stores). On querying an incorrect price recently on shelf, I was refused the option of buying the item at the incorrectly displayed price (£1 less). This has never happened to me at any Tesco store outside Bicester where more often than not they will give you the item and refund your money.

It is clear that complacency has set in for Tesco in Bicester. I can only assume that when it comes to customer service, they have the attitude that "if you don't like it you can go elsewhere". Unfortunately as a parent of a small child with a pushchair, (I also don't drive), I cannot. The only other options are an M&S food store (too expensive) and one other high street supermarket from one of the smaller chains which is just as bad.

I am all for having Tesco in this town, but believe a little healthy competition would be good for all concerned.

  • 2.
  • At 10:33 AM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Scamp wrote:

The idea that the Competition Commission would ever criticise Tesco or the other big supermarkets was never in doubt.

It's just too close to the City to be considered as independently minded.

  • 3.
  • At 11:22 AM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

I think TESCO is definitely a great British success story that is unduly attacked by the “vocal minority” that often seems to control the news agenda in the UK.

I personally drive past a rival store to get to a TESCO because the store has a wide range of non food goods is addition groceries, they are keenly priced and I like the generous Clubcard loyalty scheme.

  • 4.
  • At 11:31 AM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Moose wrote:

Very good analysis of our twin love and hate for Tesco. As their senior executives like to say, no-one holds a gun to our heads and forces us to shop in Tesco...on the other hand, if there's no other choice in the local area, it certainly feels like a metaphorical gun to our heads.

As for suppliers, why does nobody ever talk about the suppliers who have been made millionaires by getting supply deals with the major supermarkets? If you doubt this, just visit the head offices of a major supermarket, say in Hertfordshire, and compare the cars in the visitors spaces (largely belonging to suppliers) and those in the staff car parks. As they always comment on Dragons Den, if you can get just one of 'Big 4' to take your product, you'll be laughing all the way to the bank...

  • 5.
  • At 11:43 AM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Will wrote:

I look at it like this.

Tesco is the world's largest grocery home shopping service. When people sit at home at their computers, most are free to choose any retailer they want. However most seem to “CHOOSE” Tesco.

I think people who are anti Tesco should consider this point. They are where they are today for offering consumers what they want and the British public has voted with their feet.

A lot of attacks on Tesco are motivated by a general anti business segment of society who target a very visible victim.

  • 6.
  • At 12:00 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Jacques Cartier wrote:

Everybody has to buy food, so farmers were once in a strong position. In that respect, supermarkets are doing consumers a good turn by driving very hard bargains with suppliers. In effect, they are acting as a union that customers join to beat down farmers profits.

So that’s the positive side of being "organised". After a certain point, though, it is not the suppliers we have to worry about, but the supermarkets themselves. I’ve tried to hedge that by buying shares in Tescos, which has worked out well.

But I’d like us all to systematically discriminate against big business, so that we punish them more for resisting being broken up into smaller units. This would force them to remain uncomplacent, because newer, smaller organisations would receive positive discrimination to catch up with the big guys, who would be gradually weighed down and destroyed by their own success. That would be the perfect system, with constant crises and opportunities churning around and keeping the bosses on the go. Trouble is, I can’t figure out how to achieve it yet!

  • 7.
  • At 12:08 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • peter wrote:

A very interesting and perceptive summary, as normal, but if the predictions are accurate then I fear the report has missed some key issues. For example:

a) Specialist suppliers have been steadily squeezed out and in many instances replaced by Tesco brands - St Helens goat butter, Cotswold eggs, specialist bread and yoghurt.

b) Price rises are generally massaged by being promoted as 'new' product lines. For example, garlic cloves (25p) now replaced by giant garlic cloves (34p; a tactic used with other product such as mangoes.

c) Cost cutting through self service tills. Our local store regularly has no checkout option after 10pm.

Interestingly in our immediate vicinity there are four big houses and a dozen or so cottages. Over the past six months, each of the 'big' residents now has Waitrose home delivery. Tesco has a captive audience in our area, but not a happy customer base. Having once delivered a value proposition it is now ruthlessly working on margins. If the report can deliver genuine local competition, the company may have some serious issues to confront.

  • 8.
  • At 12:13 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • anita wrote:

For me it is as simple as this:

If your product and service rock, you deserve to do well.

I swapped to Sainsbury's this week for the first time in ten years, leaving my Clubcard behind because:
a) The quality of fresh produce has dropped significantly and veg are often mouldy on display, at best overripe
b) The staff tend to be surly and uninterested
c) For the last 6 weeks I haven't been able to do a complete shop, they are always missing something, especially in fresh produce
d) Their internet shopping site sucks.

Sainsbury's are offering a nice online shopping experience and a pleasant instore experience for pretty much the same price with better produce. They deserve to win their market share back on strength of effective competition in a free market.

  • 9.
  • At 12:22 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

It is a pity that success is shunned so much in this country. No where else in the world is this the case.

  • 10.
  • At 12:32 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • John Norris wrote:

Yes, lets break up tesco and then it will be small enough to be bought by overseas supermarket groups. Meaning even less support for UK food manufacturering.
Tesco has certainly done its fair share to buy foreign, especially on manufactured goods but a little is better than nothing. And its overseas expansion is very agressive, in true Tesco style. It will be interesting to see how the US adventure performs.If anyone can succeed there, its Tesco.
And, to be fair, all of the supermarkets do a good job acting as a buffer between consumers and farmers. Whenever farmer and consumer deal direct, the consumer will pay top price plus for class 2 produce. Just visit a farmers market.

  • 11.
  • At 01:12 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Shailesh Patel wrote:

Tesco Plc should pay more attention to the damasge they have caused to the local High Street.

  • 12.
  • At 01:20 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • warren wrote:

Do you shop at Tersco Robert, or do you go to the local shops and farmers markets???

  • 13.
  • At 01:25 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Having worked in a couple of large food manufacturing companies over the years, I came across several examples of bullying tactics by the big supermarkets. On several occasions certain supermarkets threatened to drop all our product ranges if we refused to drop our price of a particular range. In one case we were threatened with having our products dropped if we provided a competitor chain with products.

This is basically blackmail and I am amazed that it has taken so long for the Competition Commission to recognise that the supermarkets sometimes abuse their market dominance. My guess is that many suppliers are actually afraid to speak out.

  • 14.
  • At 01:56 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • John wrote:

I don't think Tesco are a problem - well not yet. But I do think that they need an eye kept on them.

In order to continue growing they will have to keep diversifying into other fields, and if they get too big a stranglehold in too many sectors then they could become like Walmart in the US where they open a store in a town and most of the other businesses go under, unable to compete with their huge buying power, economies of scale and convenience. They may be great for the customer, but when there is only one employer in town, the employees rarely get a fair deal.

And of course, this British success story could simply be another case of a company being "fatted up" before it gets taken over by an overseas suitor, putting 1/3rd+ of our grocery retailing industry into foreign hands in one fell swoop! I've already heard rumours that French supermarket group Carrefour may have more than a passing interest at goings on in Tesco.

  • 15.
  • At 02:04 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Scamp wrote:

#9 Depends on your interpretation of success..

Volkswagen and Siemens are a success because they boost Germany's international trade and employ lots of very smart and innovative people.

Tesco is just another shop that sucks in imports,relies heavily on low pay personnel and beats up its suppliers.

  • 16.
  • At 02:07 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Nigel Wilson wrote:

I always shopped at Tesco until a couple of years ago and then I just got fed up with it.

The price promotions on food developed a phoney edge to them as the quality of the product was allowed to decline. The wine prices were being manipulated so that the product could be discounted at a later date. The entire food product range was being downsized to ease out choice and to create space for the growing non-food sector.

I no longer think the Tesco offer is as good as it was so I have taken my business elsewhere.

However I am very aware that many people, particularly those with families, enjoy their experience of Tesco. Looks like the Tesco marketing guys have made the right pitch. It is this which makes a business profitable and good luck to them.

Maybe one day Tesco will get me back in the door but, as I have come to say, you only have to go back to Tesco to find out why you left it in the first place.

  • 17.
  • At 03:42 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Pete G wrote:

There's even more to this debate than the Jekyll and Hyde representation given.

First, large supermarkets are in the process of hoovering up the finances of local communities, and depositing the cash in the pockets of distantly located shareholders - this is not sustainable for the communities in which they are situated.

Second, if you keep your eyes open, you can find far better priced food in non-supermarket locations. My local grocer stocks milk, vegetables and many other goods consistently cheaper (often up to 50%) than my local supermarket. Supermarkets seem to be about clever marketing first, deals for the consumer last.

Thirdly, the energy consumption of supermarkets is disgraceful. A global sourcing structure, coupled with massive wastage of goods that don't pass their (often ridiculous) quality control tests is whollly unsustainable.

Sure, it's hard to avoid using Supermarkets. So use them carefully - they aren't the only way to put food on the table.

  • 18.
  • At 04:10 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Jamie wrote:

You could say that supermarkets dont ruin town centres, its the people that shop there that do. But that would be wrong.

Tesco have become huge because people, in general, are stupid. Customers have been sold the idea that the cheaper supermarkets sell goods for, the bigger the favour they are doing you. Which, frankly, is pants.

Remember "Lemmings", the great computer game from the 90s? You had to rescue hapless little creatures before they all followed each other to a certain death. That's how people seem to behave when faced with a large superstore. They traipse in, fill up their baskets with "cheap" goods and think that they have done well because it would have cost X pounds more at a different supermarket.

When did the obsession with buying on price start? Do any of the shoppers filling the aisles ever wonder where the so-called savings come from? If Tesco - or any other supermarket for that matter - get their suppliers to reduce their price, so that they can pass it on to the customer, where does the supplier make the saving? probably by shafting others further down the food chain, or by gradually eroding the benefit packages of their staff (wonder how many of Tesco's suppliers have a final salary pension scheme?)

I wouldnt be seen dead in Tesco. Im happy to buy stuff from my local greengrocer, butcher and baker, and keep my money in the local economy, so far as I can. Pick the bones out of that.

  • 19.
  • At 04:18 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Lawrence Smith wrote:

I chose not to shop at Tesco’s as I find that my local shop is dirty, poorly stocked and either expensive, compared to the lo-cost supermarkets I use for the basics, or of low quality compared to the local butchers, green-grocers and bakers I use for my fresh produce.

I don’t really understand the complaints about Tesco. If you don’t like them don’t use them. There are plenty of alternatives available often at low cost and better value. This even applies to me and I live in the more rural parts of Wales.

  • 20.
  • At 06:48 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Jeff Parry wrote:

I personally hate Tesco. I drive 3 miles to the nearest Sainsburys rather than use the Tesco shop in my town.

I don't like the way in which they dominate the towns they're in. In the last town I lived in we had 2 large Tesco stores, as well as an Asda and a Sainsburys. They have done more to ruin the town than anyother company.

They moved to my present town about 2 years ago and killed off whatever competition they had from smaller competitors and local shops.

It is time that their activities, and those of their rivals, was curtailed.

  • 21.
  • At 08:23 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Phillip Hurrell wrote:

Instead of shopping in any supermarkets, how about shop in local stores.
Newton Aycliffe has hardly any local shops left since the Tesco store came to town.
I always go to one of the two local bakers in town rather than Tesco for bread and the such like as they offer a far better service and the quality of the products are far better.
Keep local shops in business and they can then keep their prices down in order to compete with the big supermarkets.
Also use farmers markets. Famers selling their produce cuts out the middle man!!! Much better way to shop!

  • 22.
  • At 10:19 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • james Heath wrote:

Despite working for a competitor I have only admiration for Tesco. They have a clear strategy for growth and have demonstrated their ongoing superioirity to their competitors year in year out for the last 10 to 15 years. We should celebrate the fact that we have a UK owned company that is so successful and is the 3rd largest retailer in the world...all built from nothing!!!!

if you don't like Tesco don't shop there. They work in collaboration with suppliers but rightly use their massive buying power to bring great quality and prices to their customers.

  • 23.
  • At 10:36 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

Stick to NR. It's the only thing that gets you noticed. Tesco stories... sheesh

  • 24.
  • At 10:55 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • prince myshkin wrote:

Buy something at tescos.
Buy the same thing at your local greengrocer or butcher.
Say no more.

  • 25.
  • At 11:20 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • julie blakeney wrote:

Tesco is the only supermarket which is near to me. I do not drive, so I have a 20 minute walk to get my weekly shop and then a taxi home. When I get there they are under stocked and after complaining about this, nothing changes. Tesco have cornered the market in my area. It makes my blood boil. All the local green grocers and butchers have disapeared. This is o.k. if you are a car owner, but what about people who have to travel on foot? We across the nation have been forgotten.

  • 26.
  • At 11:51 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • cambshaft wrote:

Seems like a very narrow view about a globally affecting problem. People are more concerned about foreign ownership and competition than the planet? Lets hope this trivia is soon buried under the more pressing concerns about pollution and global warming rather than worrying about the consumers right to buy 'hand tied chives' flown from Kenya etc from multiple stores.

In Cambridge there is a huge campaign against yet another Tesco opening up, in a location which could decimate the community around it - Mill Road, which is home of an amazing array of local shops (who are unable to subsidise loss-leaders in the way that Tesco and the like are).

'Residents fight plans for eighth Tesco in their city' reads one typical local headline.

Over 4,000 people signed a petition in about a month, and Tesco have been reported to the OFT by the leader of the Council.

The new report really ought to be strengthening protection for smaller shops who do not have the lobbying and other powers that Tesco have, before all our high streets turn even further into a Tescopoly, and cracking down on what anti-competitive practices currently exist.

  • 28.
  • At 09:21 AM on 31 Oct 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:

Tesco is a very successful company and has brought many benefits to consumers - quality, service and value. Its overall market share in the UK is around 23%. In some locations for example Perth and Inverness it has around 70% of the market. It is in cases like this that we should be encouraging other supermarkets such as Asda and Sainsbury (Wm Morrison already has a presence) to open up and compete. That will give residents in these areas choice and drive Tesco to improve in all respects to retain its customers.

Tesco is the only large Supermarket operating out of these locations offering Home Delivery. Other supermarkets likewise should be encouraged to offer this service and provide the same benefits to consumers whilst again driving Tesco to improve standards.

Tesco is a very large employer with over 250,000 employees. With greater competition in specific locations people will have increased job opportunities. This again will drive Tesco to offer the best benefits and conditions to the valuable employees that they wish to retain.

  • 29.
  • At 10:26 AM on 31 Oct 2007,
  • Jason Clementson wrote:

Working for a copmany who supply shelving to Tesco, I was supprised at the findings of this report.
We have supplied Tesco for over 15 years and Tesco have no loyalty to any of there suppliers. Currently Tesco bully there suppliers into lower and lower costs. They share your personel information with your competitors and try to control each set of the buying process.
Tesco are to big, to powerful and to unfreindly.

  • 30.
  • At 12:36 PM on 31 Oct 2007,
  • Mike |Taverner wrote:

We are well aware that the major "four" hold vast land banks to hold off the competition in any given location.

Why not, if after 7 years of ownership and the land is still unused, go into the Property Building Market to provide suitable affordable
housing thus easing the supply against demand. "Tesco Homes" should sell well!

  • 31.
  • At 01:07 PM on 31 Oct 2007,
  • Ray wrote:

Here we are again, lambasting Tesco, true their behaviuor may seem uncompetitive, but is this not just driven by the general laziness of its customers? I for one buy ALL my meat and eggs from the local farmers market on a bi-monthly basis, I also buy my Fish from my local monger (weekly). True, it takes some of my time and some planning and effort to achieve this, but if I do not support these local business's then they will fall by the wayside and we will be left with the overpriced, lower quality that the supermarket can offer. If people are truly fed up with the big four there is an alternative, although it will cost you in effort and time, an investment that too few seem to be willing to make, my prediction is that the Big Four will become the Big Three with bit players such as Aldi and LIDL damaging the margins of the No.4 to the point of merger, aquisition, non profitability, a bleak prospect but there you are !

  • 32.
  • At 01:52 PM on 31 Oct 2007,
  • Sally wrote:

I used to shop sometimes in Tesco (although I didn't really like the store) but finally stopped going there a couple of years ago. There were too many things I was unhappy with. I do realise, by the way, that being able to drive is an important factor in choosing your shopping venue. I am able to shop in town for meat, fish, vegetables and deli items, and if possible try to limit my supermarket shopping (now at Sainsbury's which is a much more attractive shopping experience.) Even better, we have a monthly farmers' market for 'real' food!!

I felt that Tesco's excessive power in the market-place was giving them an unfair advantage, resulting from (off-shore) tax-breaks, land-banks and the takeover of just about everything we might want to buy. Is there anything left that they don't sell?

I shall certainly not go into one of their stores again.

Tesco is a constant source of complaints at my blog and the issue of land grabbing was recently revealed by a whistleblower from Tesco Head Office who has outlined that Tesco's internal property department has been giving bonuses to staff for grabing as many acres of land as possible! This landbanking should be stopped and reversed as anti-competitive.

  • 34.
  • At 04:26 PM on 31 Oct 2007,
  • Andrew S wrote:

To all those that think Tesco bashing is a UK phenomena, please have a look on google just how many anti Walmart websites there are.

People worldwide resent the supermarkets taking advantage of their dominant position in the market

  • 35.
  • At 05:42 PM on 31 Oct 2007,
  • Rich wrote:

It cannot be left to 'market-forces' to get supermarkets to act justifiably towards its suppliers.

Despite what most Customers say, they'll essentially always go to the cheapest shop for their major shopping - so supermarkets will always try to get their prices as low as possible to entice them in.

In that climate, it's the suppliers who take the brunt of the pressure with a "make it cheaper, or we'll get another supplier" approach to buying.

The only way to avoid that is for Government, Competition Commission and OFT to actually do their job here and ensure a fair deal for suppliers.

  • 36.
  • At 09:01 PM on 31 Oct 2007,
  • Michael McIver wrote:

I and my wife have not used Tescos for years,we find their claims on prices untrue in many cases and they are certainly not the cheapest either.
Although I do not begrudge the staff any of their benefits,I do wonder how Tesco can pay out large bonuses,shares and dividends year after year yet still claim to lower prices,like many politicians,their figures do not add up.

  • 37.
  • At 10:36 AM on 01 Nov 2007,
  • robert graham wrote:

My perception as a value shopper is that tesco offers good value on clothes etc but poor value on food. Some food items such as meat are also poor quality. I therefore assume that tesco's success has been built on the attraction to a time-poor population of a one-stop shop. Few brands enjoy lasting success and the time will come when the public perceives tesco as last year's place to go. On any rational analysis, the future of the market will be a polarisation between genuine discounters such as lidl on the one hand and premium providers such as waitrose on the other. In this event all of the big four will be losers.

  • 38.
  • At 12:50 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Stefan Paetow wrote:

In my ideal town I'd have not only Tesco and Waitrose (which I have now), but Sainsbury's too. The Co-op is finally proceeding with its reconstruction of the shop they demolished 4 or 5 years ago, and stopped the development of thanks to the economic downturn. But, at the same time, I do like the fact that I have a patisserie, a butcher's, a grocer all within a 5 minute walk too.

  • 39.
  • At 07:14 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • David wrote:

It all these arguments and comments no mention is made of how they treat staff. I have a relative who works at Tesco and she say's that whilst they may pay the best wages in the industry they do treat you badly. The attitude is if you don't like it you can leave. staff levels are always being reduced, service isn't a priority and if you are ill you are breaking your contract. Her manager was carted off to hospital with a heart attack and on his return was given a warning about attendance - it's standard procedure apparently.
So they do get benefits but the chief executive Terry Leahy doesn't believe in pay awards above inflation and yet his salary increase is always above inflation. Good luck to him but it's a pity that he has lost sight of the people who are important in the business - the staff. As is always the case the managers get the real money by riding rough shod over the staff

  • 40.
  • At 11:53 PM on 03 Nov 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

The problem with these "reviews" is that they are much too late in coming. Tesco and the other big players have already built up their land banks to prevent effective competition. The Government have no real interest in stopping big business from growing, only in pretending to care by throwing taxpayers money at pointless reviews and research which come about 3 years too late.

The only benefit to be gained from big name supermarkets is variety. The prices in a lot of cases certainly aren't cheaper than your local corner shop but what do you think pays for all of this advertising (and other non-price factors that supermarkets compete on) that tells you that Tesco have 2 products cheaper than Asda etc? The bottom line is, the big supermarkets don't offer you cheap prices. Why do you think they make such large profits? (Aside from bullying suppliers of course)

Also with regards to this "generous" Clubcard scheme; do bear in mind that they are giving you a relative pittance to analyse your shopping habits so they can see which products sell best in your local store. This scheme is one of the main reasons why Tesco is so dominant because they started analysing the data intensively long before any of the others.

  • 41.
  • At 10:46 PM on 04 Nov 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

As a Tesco customer for many years and a shareholder I feel Tesco has done a great job of bringing affordable quality goods to the nation. Keep up the good work

  • 42.
  • At 07:31 AM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Julian Britstone wrote:

Being a religious Jew, I naturally buy my meat and poultry from a kosher butcher. These shops operate under special licence and consequently if you wish to buy this kind of produce then you have to shop at one of these appointed suppliers.
I cannot ever see any of the big 4 being granted such a licence so kosher butchers are safe.
Also, there are usually several small associated food retailers in close proximity to the butchers and many people are able and do patronise these shops.
I do think that other ethnic minorities do likewise - halal meat and again kosher bakers and conectioners.
This proves that there is still choice and freedom available as anyone can purchase from these shops.

The consumer in the uk does not know his Asparagus from his Elbow.

All large supermarkets are evil.

In America, land of the fee and home of the grave (no that is not a spelling mistake in either case) they have found out the truth which is not something they are famous for when it comes to corporate greed.

check out the truth about Walmart at and and )

why on earth does anyone think that a monopoly is an altruistic philanthropic entity?

  • 44.
  • At 09:48 AM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Louise wrote:

I am one of these cash-rich, time-poor consumers that are referred to so frequently. I work an 80 hour week and I drive a everywhere because it's quicker (don't get me started on public transport) and I live in the suburbs of a fairly 'poor' city.
I live about 6 miles from the nearest butcher/grocer and God knows where there's a fishmonger around here. The nearest farmer's market is about 20 miles away, once a month.

Interestingly - I can eat at a wide range of McDonald's/KFC on my doorstep. But if I'm driving home at 10pm at night, and I want a proper meal...

So - a giant 24hr Tesco comes and opens up just 2 miles from my house and I am in heaven. I can buy fresh fish and a salad - and lightbulbs (I am a woman!) - in 10 minutes at 10pm.

Sorry - but Tesco gets my vote. I really want to be a good person and source locally, but its not realistic for everyone in today's society.

  • 45.
  • At 04:05 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Ken Holway wrote:

So how does the fire at Atherstone on Stour affect you views, everyone? Bomfords went bust, the new owners did not finish the sprinkler system. So the safety of the workers and firefighters was deemed less important than sucking up to the supermarkets.

  • 46.
  • At 10:23 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Tony wrote:

The free market view is that Tesco prospers because we find it useful, which is true. The problem with this argument is that both Tescos and Morrisons (I can't speak for the others) are steadily replacing brand after brand with their own labels. In many stores there is often no alternative to own-brand biscuits, for example (which are horrid), and many other products lines are going the same way.
In other words the big supermarkets are not simply becoming monopoly retailers but monopoly brands as well. Is that what we really want?

  • 47.
  • At 01:10 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

"As a Tesco customer for many years and a shareholder I feel Tesco has done a great job of bringing affordable quality goods to the nation. Keep up the good work."

Paul - on what basis do you form your opinion that Tesco are bringing affordable quality to the nation? Supermarkets largely don't compete on price because it's not in their interests to do so. Do a bit of research on oligopoly theory and you will see what I mean.
What they do compete on, is non-price factors such as advertising which is used to convince people that they are cheaper and provide better quality goods etc. when in reality they all sell the same stuff.

If your point is purely based on price, surely Asda would be doing the good work since they are the cheapest of the big 4?

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