In a little over a fortnight, Tesco will open a new store in Watford. This revamped Watford store represents the changing face of shopping.

In a little over a fortnight, Tesco will open a new store in Watford. This revamped Watford store represents the changing face of shopping.

It is not a new store in the sense we usually mean it; we have operated a store on that site, in that building, since1988.

What is new is the approach we have taken to the use of space. That use reflects the profound changes we are seeing in retailing. General merchandise space is smaller and presented with a more department store look and feel -the F&F clothing area looks like a standalone store and customers can choose to eat in Harris + Hoole, Euphorium or Giraffe.

We have talked a lot about retail destinations in the past year and Watford is the first store where a number of the ingredients come together. We have invested in businesses as we build up a menu of options we can put into our stores.

Watford shows one combination and in other stores that combination will be different, each tailored to provide the right offer for the local community.

Watford is the latest signal of change in retail, one that I’ve talked about but that is not unique to Tesco.

There is evidence for it up and down the country, across the world. Technology is transforming the way we shop, and increasingly in food.

The effort required to shop for food was considerable for my parents’ generation. Now it can be almost effortless.

Today’s customers have more leisure time and if we want shoppers to keep visiting our stores, we will have to make shopping not just easier but fun, relaxing and fulfilling: this is becoming a competitive discipline.

This is just one aspect of a wider revolution in retail that is being driven by the new attitudes of the millennials. Our response at Tesco is to focus on becoming a multichannel leader.

A lot of retailers claim it, but creating individually perfect shopping experiences, however a customer shops, is difficult to achieve. Becoming a multichannel leader is about more than just putting iPads in stores.

It needs investment in new types of skills and not just in the IT department.

From marketing, finance and operations through to commercial and corporate affairs, the skillsets required by retail leaders are changing. That means bringing in outstanding talent with these new skills to work alongside the best of Tesco.

In Tesco’s leadership team we have a new generation of leaders for a new era of retail. Matt Atkinson as chief marketing officer, Robin Terrell as multichannel director, Michael Comish as our chief digital officer: all steeped in the skills we need to embed multichannel into Tesco’s DNA.

It is not just happening in the boardroom, it is happening across our business. We are developing new skills, bringing in new experienced practitioners from different backgrounds and, above all, challenging the business to think in new ways.

It is a fundamental change to the way we do business, to the way we serve our customers and manage our business. The retail skills we have in this country have made us the best in the world, especially in grocery retailing.

I believe it was the advent of the supermarket that was the last time we saw a genuinely new era of retail and it required a different approach and fresh skills.

In our generation, technology has brought about a new era, and an imperative to have the right team with the right skills to deliver.

  • Philip Clarke is chief executive of Tesco