Dave Lewis, chief executive at Tesco who took on the role last month has taken top executives on a cut-price cottage minibreak in a remote park of Norfolk.
Top executives at the cottage included the acting UK chief Robin Terrell; Trevor Masters, who runs the company’s £10 bn Asian business; Tesco bank chief Benny Higgins and group corporate affairs director Rebecca Shelley.
In the latest plan to win back customers, Lewis made executives shop, cook and wash up after themselves in a bid to enable executives to not only get in touch with customers but to also see the business from the point of view of regular shoppers. The trip saw senior executives sent out shopping at near by supermarkets, including rival stores too.
“I took my executive team away for a day and a night. It’s been a very frenetic time and I wanted to get to know the people and talk about where the business was and where it was heading. So I took them off to a tiny self-catering place in Norfolk. Let’s just say it was a damn sight cheaper than most hotels would cost you” said Lewis.
After a hectic few months for Tesco which saw a series of profit warnings, slumping sales and a £263 million accounting scandal, Dave Lewis believes the root of the problem is due to the group losing touch with what its customers want.
To further understand customer needs, Lewis has implemented a new rule in the run-up to Christmas. Staff at the head office in Hertfordshire will spend one day a fortnight in stores to understand the business from a customers view. He explained: ‘I’m trying to get the business to make time for and think about – if they weren’t doing already – the things that matter from a customer point of view … service, availability, quality.’
Dave Lewis appreciates as a new executive the he must find time to focus on the needs of the customer. He is also keen on prioritising keeping costs down as previous loyal shoppers are now turning to discount retailers such as Aldi and Lidl, who are becoming significantly popular and increasingly growing their share of the grocery market.
Tesco’s new executive has also commented that his bonus is under review as he tried to turn the supermarket around.