Editorial: Not Everyone loves a winner

In Groundhog Day-style, Tesco and its boss Leahy have swept the board again.

by Matthew Gwyther, mt editor
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

So here we are again with the leaves on the ground and a snap in the air. The turn of another year and, in Groundhog Day-style, Tesco has swept the board again in Britain's Most Admired Companies: it takes the top slot overall and its CEO Sir Terry Leahy is again the UK's Most Admired Leader.

It is significant that Tesco receives the accolade from its peers at a time when it faces greater hostility from its detractors than it has ever done. The supermarket is quite simply far too good at what it does and it has definitely ruffled a few feathers on the way to its position of hegemony. The latest sally has come from Poland, where the new conservative finance minister Teresa Lubinska has denounced Tesco as 'the kind of non-productive investment not needed in Poland'. In its own back yard, Tesco has so far escaped the punitive attention of the Office of Fair Trading, but the signs are looking ominous on that front for 2006.

If you believe in freedom of choice, it is hard, actually, to argue against Tesco. Its customers cannot get enough time in Sir Terry's aisles. When Tesco acquired some former Safeway outlets, sales in those stores more than doubled. The same is true when a Tesco Express replaces a local store like Europa or Cullens.

Meanwhile, I'm sure Tesco is watching the vehement criticism that Wal-Mart, its counterpart in the US, is suffering at the moment. Protest group 'Wake Up Wal-Mart' has 115,000 members and is trying to enact a nationwide boycott of the company's stores this Christmas. And now a documentary film - Wal-Mart: the High Cost of Low Price - has been released in the States that threatens to do for the retailer what Farenheit 9/11 did for George Bush and Supersize Me did for McDonald's. We don't know whether Ken Loach plans a celluloid assault on Tesco, but those who run its corporate affairs department - aided by David Yelland, ex-editor of the Sun - have an interesting year ahead of them as they explain why Tesco is good for us.

On a lighter note, our feature 'Love At Work' is about the delights and dangers of conducting romantic relationships with work colleagues. It may all sound a bit Cosmo for MT, but this is an important subject - academics at Cranfield have made a study of it. Some of the statistics we have uncovered make interesting reading - 15% of people admit to having a crush on someone in their workplace and 17% have had a one-night stand with a colleague.

With Christmas parties coming up and the hair coming down, you might want to read the piece before you down that first glass of mulled wine.

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