With Dave Lewis taking the top job at Tesco this morning (21 July) he has shown that suppliers can make the move from supplier to retailer.
Lewis is the first outsider to take charge of the retailer since Tesco’s founder Jack Cohen and comes from a strong history of brand management and has led household names such as Dove soap, Pot Noodle and Knorr stock cubes.
“Suppliers are typically more attuned to the needs of the customer than retailers,” commented Danielle Pinnington at Shoppercentric. “So whilst Dave Lewis might have to act more quickly than he is used to, he might just have the right mind-set to bring the real understanding of customer needs that is going to help Tesco uncover a strong role in the changing retail landscape.”
Others were optimistic that Lewis could be a success at Tesco.
“As a leading supplier he certainly knows how to win price wars and perhaps that is the big issue now facing Tesco in the UK,” veteran retail analyst Nick Bubb said.
If Lewis is a success, he won’t be the first supplier to succeed in retail. Boohoo co-founder Carol Kane led fashion suppliers Red Orange Clothing and Pinstripe Clothing in Manchester for twenty years and now leads one of Britain’s biggest fashion success stories, Boohoo.com. The business, set up in 2006, saw profits triple from £3m to almost £11m last year while UK sales surged 60 per cent in the year to 28 February.
Analysts have praised Boohoo with one saying she believed it has an “under-rated competitive advantage in sourcing and supply chain.”
Earlier this month, Alliance Boots’ international online and digital lead Donna Chen told Retail Gazette that the supply chain will become the key issue for the retail sector. She warned that retailers that cannot deliver products within a few hours will “fail” in the future.
Perhaps Lewis can be the man to deliver faster delivery times, a more integrated supply chain and a more personal and customer focused approach at Tesco.