The improvements make total sense at the moment: this is a different recession than the one that spawned the honest, stripped down values of the Value range. Tesco’s rivals have moved beyond the idea of basics and, with ranges like Waitrose Essentials and Morrisons’ M Savers, put the emphasis on affordable quality – in order to attract the increasing volume of cash-strapped yet status-conscious shoppers. Gone are the days when price wars are dragging the cost of a tin of beans down to 3p, or Tesco Value is going up against Asda Farmhouse (remember that?). These days it’s all ‘Chosen by You’.
Clearly the supermarket has been spooked by its underwhelming start to the year, and understandly too: it’s lost market share to Iceland, Asda and Sainsbury’s, and supermarket analyst Kantar reckons own-label budget ranges have grown 9.3% over the last year – a rate that Tesco Value has apparently failed to match.
Still, it’s no small move to ditch what has been a major player forTesco. Back when Norman Lamont was pulling the purse strings, the introduction of the Value stripes may have been seen as a big risk, but it proved instrumental in Tesco’s rise to becoming the mighty presence it has, helping to drive market share from 15% to 25% in the space of a decade. And it remains one of only four supermarket sub-brands with sales of more than £1bn (with Tesco Finest, Asda’s Chosen by You and Waitrose Essentials).
But if the UK’s leading supermarket ever needed a fresh kick it’s now. Tesco’s executives are failing to see the value in working there, with several big hitters jumping ship in the past few weeks, and in January it suffered a shock profit warning that wiped almost £5bn off the its shares. CEO Philip Clarke’s £500m Price Drop campaign has backfired too, failing to convince shoppers that Tesco is the best bet for cutting your costs.
Now, however, it’s not just the customers that have saving to do. And while Everyday Value comes to rescue the ailing supermarket, it’s time for those iconic blue-and-white stripes to ride the conveyor belt to the big checkout in the sky…