retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Sir Terry Leahy, the recently retired CEO of Tesco, has told a BBC interviewer that “the thing about modern supermarkets is what people like about them is also what people worry about; the benefits that I receive as a consumer, does that come at some other price for somebody else or for me as a citizen?”

But Leahy also makes the point that Tesco is run - and largely perceived - as a force for social good.

“One of the things I’m proudest of is you can join at any level at any age, any part of the business and you can get right to the top of the company,” he told the BBC. “And we’ve got people on our executive committee who started at the age of 16 and come right through the business and Tesco is a great engine for social mobility.

“We take people with no qualifications, we take people from the finest universities, but it’s what you do in the organization, what kind of person you are, how hard you work, you can get right to the top.”
KC's View:
I have always thought that the supermarket industry has for too long ignored its ability to be an engine for social mobility; as retailers look for ways to establish their advantages, they ought to be talking about the things they bring to communities - and that includes good jobs for people who want to work and create for themselves careers in which they actually are doing good by feeding people.

CIES (now the Consumer Goods Forum) flirted with this a few years ago, but kind of veered off on other tangents. And, while I hate to say it, Walmart has done a superb job of running commercials that speak specifically about the people it hired and the careers they are able to mold.

But, IMHO, other retailers ought to be following this path.