Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tesco versus Sid

It's that time of year that we used to refer to as summer and the newspaper business is in the doldrums. The editors are all off on their hols and have left the running of the business to the tea lady and the office boy. Consequently, there's a bit of a void to be filled and the solution is to ask the readers to provide their comments on a few pertinent matters. This is good for yards of column inches at minimal cost.
A recent topic was that of the Tesco supermarket chain, which is, as you know, shortly to take over the management of the United Kingdom from the government.
Was Tesco a good thing or was Tesco a bad thing was the question and the answers took up about fourteen pages.
Probably to the astonishment of the aforementioned tea lady and office boy, some thought it a good thing and, even more astonishingly, some thought it a bad thing. There were a few wishy washy correspondents who didn't seem to know but these were the ones that would presumably vote Liberal at the next election.
Flicking through the comments, I was intrigued to see that hardly anywhere did the question of the quality of the products arise. Instead there was tremendous emphasis on the fact that Tesco delivered to your door. This was touted rather as though they had invented the wheel or, at the very least, perpetual motion.
I can only think that these commentators were either very young or very forgetful.
It is not so many years since the baker delivered fresh bread to your door daily, the milkman did the same for milk, cream butter and eggs and the butcher's boy would deliver your roast by fast bicycle.
The friendly local grocer would take your order and deliver it weekly and, if their goods were not to your liking, there was always another vendor after your business.
In 1983, attempting to find a quiet place to finish a book, I moved to a country cottage in England. The nearby town had three butchers, a baker and probably a candlestick maker, but as we had electricity, we never sought him out. There was also Sid's general store that supplied the grocery and greengrocery needs of the community. Once a week, Sid would call to take our order, returning the next day with the items often plus a few that he though might come in handy. He also supplied the local gossip as a bonus.
Clearly, Tesco have been watching Sid and his compatriots and envying their success.
Now Sid and his like are going the way of the Dodo, thanks to the supermarkets and their relentless pursuit of profit.
Personally, if I lived in Britain I would pay a premium to have Sid deliver my groceries once more. He never once changed the “sale by” date on his stuff – you knew it was fresh, otherwise he wouldn't sell it to you – and he knew more about customer relations than any supermarket ever will.


Post a Comment

<< Home