Belfast Telegraph

Flawed strategy very much to blame for fall from grace

By Margaret Canning

Many big companies have suffered a fall from grace, but few have had as steep a tumble as Tesco.

Its present decline stems from its own mistakes and factors beyond its control.

Their strategy of big out-of-town stores was sorely tested in the economic downturn, when consumers began spreading their weekly shop between discounters like Lidl, more expensive offerings like Marks & Spencer, and independent traders like Spar and Centra. Secondly, its strategy of opening a number of stores within a relatively small radius has also created problems of saturation.

Tesco Extra is an attractive tenant in a development like the Outlet in Banbridge, but that leaves Tesco cannibalising its own market share, as it is committed to keeping open an older, smaller Tesco store in the town centre of Banbridge for the next decade at least.

And an accounting error last year resulted in an overstatement of its profits of around £263m.

Its biggest stores in Northern Ireland, and especially Tesco Extra at Knocknagoney, are inhospitable places to shop - and attempts to lure customers with an in-store beauty parlour in Knocknagoney won't work miracles.

There are no indications yet where the 43 store closures will be targeted, and whether any of its Northern Ireland stores will be shut down.

But the independent traders who have railed against Tesco's omnipresence in Northern Ireland will be fairly happy today.

Belfast Telegraph