Who’d have wanted to be Philip Clarke this morning? You wouldn’t have blamed him for crawling back under the duvet rather than face the media to defend another year of Tesco’s falling profits. To his credit he took the bull by the horns and did a pretty good job at putting a positive spin on a negative corporate story, and all this amid calls from some significant investors for him to step down.
Group profits down 6%, like for like sales down 1.4%, not a great position to be in, but Philip Clarke took the opportunity to send out his positive messages: Tesco is in the middle of significant change which will take 3 years, they are a strong business holding the middle market position, they anticipated change in the trading environment and are responding to it. He even managed to paint some colourful images of happy shoppers and smiling staff in some of the newly refurbished stores and to make the point that he “plans to stay and finish the job”.
So what did we take away from his interview? Shoppers would have been encouraged to know that Tesco shops are going to improve, that they’ll be able to use smartphones to shop and that Tesco plans to slash more prices. Investors weren’t put off as early trading saw the share price rise by 5% as the results weren’t as bad as forecast.
All in all it was worth it for Philip Clarke to get out of bed this morning, he realised you can’t hide from bad news in fact you need to control it and make the most of whatever media opportunity you’re given, having said that he’s clearly far from out of the woods yet.