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PlanetRetail.net reports on an interview with Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy, who notes that the company had its most troubled times when it “lost sight of the customer” and was trying too hard to emulate Sainsbury,” but has managed to transcend those troubles to become a global player that is competitive with Wal-Mart.

“It was a tremendous lesson not to become overly obsessed with following and benchmarking,” Leahy says. “The irony was that when we stopped trying to be like a Sainsburys, we started to deliver. The cautionary tale for Tesco is that there have been other great number ones in this industry. It’s a great industry but you are judged every day. Consumers do have a choice and they will punish you if you don’t measure up.”
KC's View:
Good object lesson. Too many retailers define themselves by how they measure up to Wal-Mart, instead of defining themselves by what they do well and how they achieve excellence in their efforts to be relevant to consumers.

In a lot of cases, that’s because they feel – quite rightly – that Wal-Mart’s strategy is the clearest example of strategy achieved. But it becomes a problem when retailers allow Wal-Mart to define the rules of everybody’s game…which is no way to compete and differentiate yourself.