In retail, nothing beats being on the shopfloor to learn from customers and colleagues and it’s important to deliver, day in, day out and, of course, especially at Christmas.

In retail, nothing beats being on the shopfloor to learn from customers and colleagues and it’s important to deliver, day in, day out and, of course, especially at Christmas.

We launched our £1bn six-point UK plan last April and since then everyone in the business has been unremittingly focused on getting things back on track.

In all my time at Tesco, never has the strength of our team been more in evidence with fantastic collaboration across every format whether in Express, Metro, Superstore, Extra, in distribution, Head Office or our online business.

In the days running up to Christmas, atrocious weather cancelled all ferries serving the Shetland Isles. For customers at our Lerwick store, it raised the prospect of Christmas without the products we take for granted.

We couldn’t settle for that, so we hired a Hercules cargo plane, filled it with 75 cages of perishable goods, and flew them over to the islands. Then we ran three more flights to ensure the store had the products our customers needed.

We hadn’t done a Christmas airlift before, but it showed how everyone at Tesco pulls together to deliver the best possible Christmas for the customers and communities we serve. I saw that first-hand when I joined more than 5,000 head office managers who went back to the shopfloor to help, and it was great to hear customers recognising the changes we have made over the past year to improve the shopping experience.

At Tesco, this kind of team spirit and customer service isn’t just for Christmas. The challenges we faced in the UK this time last year are well-known. As Philip Clarke said, we hadn’t been giving our customers the shopping trip they expect.

Phil used the phrase “three years’ work in one”, and that gives you an idea of the intensity with which everyone, wherever they work in Tesco, has approached the task.

The senior UK leadership team based itself in a typical Tesco store for one day a week, to lead the business from the shelf-edge. There is nothing like being on the shopfloor for trying new ideas, finding out what we can do better for our customers, and how we can help our store colleagues deliver their best too.

That’s important, as our colleagues in the stores are our most important ambassadors. Giving our stores the right level of resources in the areas that matter most - fresh food for example - has been vital in helping them deliver the best service in our stores for our customers.

Injecting new innovation and energy into our stores and product ranges is changing our customers’ experience of Tesco too. Our relaunch of our Value range as Everyday Value last year has been a huge success, not just because the packaging has been made more appealing, but because we’ve invested in the quality of the product too.

Within our stores, we’ve been creating a warmer environment, and - as readers of the last issue of Retail Week Interiors will have seen - a shopfit for our clothing brand F&F we think which stands comparison with the best of high street fashion retail.

We’re putting as much effort into digital retailing too. As we saw in our results published earlier this month, online continues to grow rapidly, with click-and-collect, both for food and non-food, proving hugely popular at Christmas.

Our expanding network of dotcom stores is providing the infrastructure to build an online business that delivers for both customers and shareholders.

It’s been a year of intense activity, and I’m proud of what our colleagues in the UK have achieved. The work has just begun, and no-one at Tesco is planning to step off the gas in 2013.

  • Chris Bush is the UK managing director of Tesco