Bloomberg News

Tesco’s Clarke Says Main Concern Is Talent, Not Consumer Demand

October 11, 2011

Oct. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Tesco Plc Chief Executive Officer Philip Clarke said his biggest concern is a shortage of talent rather than weakening consumer demand.

“People are focused on what isn’t good, but I just see opportunities and I see a shortage of skill, I see a shortage of talent,” the head of the world’s third-largest retailer said at the Institute of Grocery Distribution conference in London today. “Consumer confidence is falling all over the world, but that’s always been a challenge we’ve had to face.”

The Cheshunt, England-based grocer, which has more than 2,800 domestic stores, will invest about 1.6 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) in the U.K. this year, Clarke said, adding that he’s never known a time of “so many opportunities.” Tesco will spend more outside its home market, though the U.K. needs to be “cherished,” with decisions made locally, he said.

“Sometimes you have to put aside just the pursuit of profit in the market in order to get back in tune with the nation, which is what Big Price Drop and other things that are coming in the second half of the year” are about, the CEO said.

Tesco’s 500 million-pound ($782 million) price campaign involves 3,000 everyday items. The retailer said last week that it won’t increase profit in the second half, which is “very unusual for Tesco,” Clarke said.

Joanne Denney-Finch, CEO of the IGD, told the conference that supermarkets are up against “the low-growth economy, sustainability, scarce resources, inflation, the squeeze on household budgets, the promotional merry-go-round.”

--Editors: Paul Jarvis, David Risser

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah Shannon in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at

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