The date is 22nd September 2014 – one that will go down in history as one of the darkest in UK retail history.
The headlines were damning, for it was on this day that it emerged that new Tesco Chief Executive Dave Lewis had advised the City that Tesco profits had been overstated by £250m.
Four executives were suspended and £2bn was wiped off the share value. It represented a nadir for the once high flying, now beleaguered grocer.
The great British public can be fickle at the best of times and during those dark days we relished in giving that bastion of the UK High Street a right royal kicking.
From the way it treated suppliers to the corporate arrogance stalking the corridors of Welwyn – suddenly everything the brand stood for was under attack.
Whilst we might have fallen out of love with the brand; we also wanted to make a point.
Fast forward to late November 2017 and I am with Tesco Chief Customer Officer, Alessandra Bellini and Group Communications Director, Jane Lawrie at the offices of their creative agency BBH, there to discuss the business and to preview the 2017 Tesco Christmas ad campaign.
Reason To Believe
I am warmly thanked for coming; the atmosphere is convivial and friendly.
We discuss the past and it is clear that lessons have been learnt – but what comes across as most striking of all is the sheer humility of it all.
The Tesco reluctance to engage is legendary but all that appears to have gone, the new management team under Dave Lewis singing from a very different hymn sheet.
The conversation is peppered with words like ‘emotional engagement’ and ‘real people, real stories’ and ‘we need to earn the trust of our customers’.
Encouragingly, this is translating into a much brighter performance; the interim results announced in October showing a sharp rise in first half profits to £562m together with the resumption of dividend payments.
And all this has been achieved in the face of fierce competition from the discounters – not an easy trick to pull off.
Which leaves me reflecting on the new Tesco we are witnessing rather than the previous bloated incarnation.
In some way or other the High Street needs a Tesco – in reality, the great British public needs a Tesco – and on the evidence of this, we’re well on the way to falling back in love with a brand that, if truth be known, just needed to be put in its place.