As Matt Davies prepares to move to Tesco, Halfords’ update brought clues about how he may put the wheels back on the grocer.
As Matt Davies prepares to move from Halfords to Tesco, the cars and motor accessories specialist’s update brought clues about how he may put the wheels back on the grocer.
Among Tesco’s problems is that it has been a bit unlovable for some time. The days when it could throw its weight around regardless are long gone. For it to return to form it must not just be an efficient retailer.
Along with excellent quality products, Tesco must also provide a better customer experience.
Quality of service has allowed some retailers to distinguish themselves from online as well as bricks-and-mortar competitors.
It’s also been at the heart of Davies’ Getting into Gear strategy to improve Halfords’ customer experience.
The first of the strategy’s five points is to create a ‘service revolution’ and that mentality filters right through to infrastructure considerations and the digital operation.
Delivering what customers want
Any grocer’s Christmas nightmare is to fail to supply the customer’s turkey for the Christmas table, or for its quality to disappoint.
The equivalent at Halfords would be to mess up on that perennial Christmas present favourite, children’s bikes.
The retailer was up to the task. Davies told analysts at the update: “We were very, very focused on making sure that every kid got their bike before Christmas. And I didn’t get one email from a customer basically saying that we’d let them down at all.”
“It’s no surprise that Halfords investors are sorry to see Davies motor off”
That commitment showed through in Halfords’ numbers. Retail like-for-likes were up 6.8% over the Christmas period, when kids’ bikes were 13.8% ahead of the previous year.
It’s no surprise that Halfords investors are sorry to see Davies motor off.
However, a mark of a good chief executive is to create a business and team that remains on course long after they have departed.
That was the case at Davies’ previous employer, Pets at Home, and he seems confident the same will prove true at Halfords.
If Davies can drive a similar mindset and executional rigour at Tesco as he did at Halfords, the effect should be felt by shoppers and reflected in the sales line and he will play a big part in making the giant grocer fully roadworthy again.