Tesco results were out today. It's group sales increased by 2.6 per cent in the 26 weeks to 24 August 2013, it's UK sales were up by 1.1 per cent and its UK LFLs were down by 0.5 per cent.
Tesco is a huge retailer, which means that the pace of change will always be slow. Today's results suggest it is moving, albeit slowly, in the right direction though.
Neil Saunders says:
"The most encouraging sign of progress within the UK comes from the fact that within the period, the second quarter numbers showed an uptick in trading performance comparative to the first quarter: LFLs in Q1 were down 0.9 per cent whereas LFLs in Q2 were flat. Admittedly, this represents a stabilisation rather than a turnaround, but it is progress of a sort and does reflect the various initiatives that have gone into redeveloping the customer proposition."
The most critical initiatives, he says, have been the improvement of the store environment and "experience", lots of changing around in the food range, and some forrays into non-food, namely clothing.
"The international picture", he says, "looks increasingly worrying. European results were weak, with LFLs down by 5.0 per cent. Some of this continues to be driven by negative economic headwinds affecting Central and Eastern Europe, but part of it is also linked to a structural shift as consumers in some markets switch away from larger store formats leaving Tesco, and other players, exposed. The picture in Asia is little better with trading in Korea impacted by regulatory restrictions and the Thai economy dipping into recession."
Little surprise then that Tesco has moved away from expansion and into stabilisation - it knows where the issues are and is addressing them.
"It will have to work increasingly hard to get the whole group back firing on all cylinders but the management capability, resources and focus are all in place to meet that challenge", says Neil Saunders.