• Matt Davies says Tesco is “on the cusp of doing something really special”
  • The grocer’s UK boss thinks it can build on Christmas sales momentum to establish “a great future”
  • Davies wants to draw on the heritage of former “Tesco greats” Lord MacLaurin and Sir Terry Leahy
  • Davies was speaking on day one of Retail Week Live 2016


Tesco’s UK and Ireland boss Matt Davies believes the grocer is “on the cusp of doing something special” as it continues its turnaround.

Davies, who took on the job last May after being drafted in by chief executive Dave Lewis, said Tesco was now “obsessing” about how to serve its customers better in the battle to win back shoppers and return to sales growth.

That is something the supermarket giant achieved over Christmas, when its like-for-like sales grew 1.3% in the six weeks to January 9.

Matt Davies on Tesco's Future at Retail Week Live

“I really do believe we’re on the cusp of doing something really special at Tesco”

Matt Davies, Tesco

And Davies believes Tesco can build on that festive momentum to “build a great future.”

Delivering the opening keynote speech of Retail Week Live 2016, Davies said: “I really do believe we’re on the cusp of doing something really special at Tesco.

“You saw the results we shared at Christmas trading. We’re back in like-for-like sales growth now for the first time in four years.

“Even more interesting is what lies behind them – the feedback we’re getting from customers on the shopfloor. On every key measure of great service, customers are more positive about Tesco than they’ve been for years.

“That’s a great foundation for us to build for the future.”

He added: “I’m not for one second going to say that it’s going to be plain sailing – this is a very competitive industry and there are big shifts and challenges still on the horizon.

“But if we obsess by the minute about being a brilliant grocer and serving Britain’s shoppers a little better every day, then we will be in a good place and we will build a great future. Our destiny is in our own hands.”


Davies said Tesco was following three key principles in order to become “a world-class service organisation” – listening to customers and colleagues, creating a culture of helpfulness and drawing on operational expertise to offer a personal customer service.

He admitted there were “no quick fixes” or “silver bullets” to achieve success, but highlighted Tesco’s response to the flooding in the North of England as one of his “most outstanding memories” since taking the job nine months ago.

Davies said that the Tesco team in Carlisle demonstrated one example of how the retailer could offer outstanding service, at scale, when they built a temporary pop-up store – which opened just seven days after its Extra superstore was hit by flooding.

“We are fixing Tesco under the hood – brilliant retail basics, but we are also building a groundswell around little helps that will define us going forward”

Matt Davies, Tesco

He said: “They didn’t ask me for permission, they didn’t submit a budget proposal – they simply knew that they wanted to do to help a community in need, and the way they knew how to do it was to build a new store – and to build it really quickly.

“So along with hundreds and thousands of little helps, there are some extremely big helps that, at times, only Tesco is truly capable of – and that is truly amazing.”

In what was perhaps a nod to his previous role as boss of cycles and car parts retailer Halfords, Davies added: “We are fixing Tesco under the hood – brilliant retail basics, but we are also building a groundswell around all the little helps that will define us going forward and that heritage is really firmly sewn in our past and established by Tesco greats like Lord MacLaurin and Sir Terry Leahy.

“That momentum of two million helps a week is what is going to really differentiate us.” 

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