New Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis has told staff that the grocer can once again become the “customers’ champion”.
In an email to staff seen by Retail Week, Lewis, who joins today and succeeds Philip Clarke, said: “These are challenging times, but we will emerge stronger. With a relentless focus on our customers and a preparedness to challenge ourselves and take bold decisions we can retain our position as the customers’ champion. This is a great business made up of great people, with real expertise and I am confident that together we can succeed.”
Lewis was parachuted in a month early following another profit warning last week.
He said in the letter that he has met and worked with many Tesco people over the years, so “I know the hard work and dedication which is a hallmark of this business”.
He added: “I’m proud to be leading a team of half a million talented and committed people around the world. In our DNA we have always been the customers’ champion, and we will be again.”
“We have to take our destiny in our own hands and be absolutely focused on delivering the best possible experience for our customer”
Dave Lewis, Tesco
Lewis said Tesco is losing market share in its largest market and “we need to address this with urgency”.
He said: “The most important thing is that we all focus on being on top of our game. We need to keep it simple and customer focused. I know periods of change can be unsettling, but we have to take our destiny in our own hands and be absolutely focused on delivering the best possible experience for our customers. She or he will reward us if we constantly put them first.”
Getting to know the business
Lewis said he looks forward to “getting around the business and doing a lot of listening”. He said: “In my first few days I will be talking to colleagues at Welwyn and Cheshunt directly, and visiting as many of our businesses and stores as possible – listening to our customers and meeting as many of you as I can. I will also be meeting some of our shareholders and investment analysts.”
Lewis said he will be “taking some time to get to know the business better, to understand the challenges and opportunities we face”.
“We have some urgent issues to deal with, but we must address these in a way which is consistent with building a long-term sustainable future”
Dave Lewis, Tesco
He said “we all want to see an improvement in performance, but I won’t take any hasty decisions. The decisions I take will be based on what’s best for customers, for shareholders, for colleagues, and hence the whole Tesco business. We have some urgent issues to deal with, but we must address these in a way which is consistent with building a long-term sustainable future”.
Lewis said he will “always communicate openly and transparently with you and I’d like to encourage the same from you in return”.
Lewis also pays tribute to Clarke, and thanks him for the “very professional” way he managed the transition.
Grocery Insight director and retail blogger Steve Dresser, who has seen the email, said Lewis used effective language, showing willingness to listen, that is likely to get staff on back on the the front foot.
He said: “Encouraging communication from colleagues is important and it is vital that they are able to speak out without a comeback.”
Tesco issues profit warning as new boss Dave Lewis parachuted in month early
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Tesco boss Dave Lewis tells staff the grocer can again become 'customers' champion'