Speaking at the World Retail Congress here, Philip Clarke, Tesco’s chief executive officer, said the money-losing U.S. chain is “fighting nicely” in a tough marketplace.
“The stores we have continue to grow nicely, and the reason it’s worth persisting is that the stores themselves fulfill a particular need for a particular group of customers,” Clarke said, in response to a question, according to local reports that the company confirmed to SN.
“Fresh & Easy is only 5 years old, [and] it’s playing in a playground with some very big and very old retailers who are very wise, and it’s fighting nicely. Already the changes we’ve been making have gone some way to prove there’s life in Fresh & Easy yet. We’ll continue to hopefully see those sales grow [as] it moves towards profitability.”
In his prepared remarks, Clarke talked about the need for grocery retailers to use digital technology to develop greater loyalty with consumers. “We need to change the old ways of retail thinking and personalize the retail experience,” he said.
“Looking ahead, retail will not be about buying large swaths of new real estate but about how businesses relate to customers and their communities.
“The choice we face is a stark one: Do we lead the revolution or become victims of evolution?”
Tesco is opting to be in the forefront of the digital revolution, he said.
“As spending power has fallen, consumers are experiencing a very real loss of control. Digital technology has empowered consumers to be smart shoppers who can make informed choices, and the smartphone has become a widely used means of researching deals, accounting for about a third of online consumer research in the U.S.”
Read more: Fresh & Easy Cuts Hours, Staff at 33 Stores
Clarke said consumers are also looking for a better brand experience, “so all retailers need to think more intelligently about how we win and retain loyalty, which is being challenged like never before. As consumers start to assign specific roles to specific retailers, their apps have become the new High Street — personalized, digital and accessible from wherever you are.”
As a result the principle of simply following the customers is not enough to win or retain loyalty, he said. “The need to build a strong, trusted brand is greater than ever. Digital technologies herald a new era of mass personalization where the online and offline retail experience must be seamless and personalized to meet an individual customer’s needs.”
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