It’s been a year since Tesco boss Dave Lewis instigated a store revamp programme at the grocer. Has it paid dividends?

A year has passed and the papers are full of comment that Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis’s honeymoon was over some time back. One of the questions that seems to float around at the moment is whether things are any better than when he took the reins, are they the same, or might they actually be worse?

If you were at the helm of Britain’s largest retailer, the temptation might be to take a Conservative party approach and blame whoever was in office before you if things are going awry in some way. In the case of the Conservatives it was Gordon Brown, for Lewis it was Philip Clarke.

The fact that things have patently not gone that well for Tesco (biggest loss in UK retail history etc etc) must make this more attractive as an option.

But hang on a moment - do the stores look any better? Quite a few have been closed and there is a programme of store upgrades that continues to take place. But is this going quickly enough and is it making a difference?

As Britain’s largest retailer, this is an outfit with a vast estate, featuring stores from hypermarkets to a shop offering take-away food for City office workers. The latter, in London’s Philpot Lane, is easily dealt with. Incorporated within this micro Express store was a Fred’s Food Construction counter. That closed in July, presumably as part of Lewis’s declared intent to focus on Tesco’s core assets. So things are being done.

And yes, this is a case of fighting a store upgrade battle on many fronts. It’s a Forth Rail Bridge, Sisyphean task and any other cliché you might wish to apply. No sooner have you completed doing the business with the estate than it’s time to start over. That said, the stores do look better and ever since the much vaunted makeover that the Tesco Extra store on the outskirts of Watford received, the store revamps have been conducted at pace.

This continues to be the case and it’s actually quite hard to find an old-style Tesco these days - much has changed. Will this make a difference to the bottom line? Maybe, and at this point it might be time to use the ad man’s get-out that detractors should consider how much worse things might have been done had nothing been done.

A year down the line then, Lewis has continued the good work (and it is good) that was already in place as far as the store modernisation programme is concerned - this at least is one area where things are on the up.