Friday 22 September 2017

Tesco's 'happiness' is all thanks to Ken Dodd

It's scary to think what senior Tesco executives get up to behind closed doors.

Asked yesterday about competitors in the UK that increasingly claim they can price-match Tesco, chief executive Philip Clarke shrugged off the potential threat. He said he found it curious that rivals continue to focus on what they claim they can beat Tesco at.

"We were playing Ken Dodd's 'Happiness' in a meeting recently, so maybe that's quite appropriate," he said.

The thought of Mr Clarke and the board prancing about with feather dusters isn't one you want burned on to your brain.

For those not in the know, here's a line from Mr Dodd's masterpiece:

"A wise old man told me one time/When you go to measuring my success/Don't count my money, count my happiness."

For shareholders, happiness will be directly proportional, however, to how much money Tesco can count. Turning around its UK business is a top priority, but challenges abound in other markets.

In South Korea -- its biggest market after the UK -- Sunday trading has just been prohibited for two out of every four weeks, while 24-hour shopping has also been halted under regulations.

In Ireland, while dominating the market, Tesco still faces challenges from German discounters Lidl and Aldi, both of which continue to open new stores and take market share.

But who are they taking it from? Those in the know say Dunnes is being impacted most. But Tesco will need to be on its toes in a shrinking grocery market. December's Budget will probably make things even tougher.

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