Chief Executive's Introduction

Philip Clarke Chief Executive

It has been a year of significant change at Tesco

Extract from the Tesco and Society Report published on May 23rd 2013

At Tesco, we want to put in more than we take out. And we want that to apply to everything we do in our business strategy and in our relationship with society as a whole. That is why this year we embarked upon a change to the way Tesco operates.

In our UK business for example we have invested in the shopping experience we offer both in-store and online. We know that we are only as good as the last shopping trip a customer takes and that there is enormous power when that experience is excellent. We’re now one year into our six–point UK plan to ‘Build a Better Tesco’ and I am proud of the way the UK team has responded to the challenge. In the UK and increasingly across the Group, we’re making significant changes. With more colleagues in-store we are now able to improve how we look after our customers.

This change needs to go hand in hand with the value we create for wider society. Simply put, the world’s expectations of business are changing. We know that our customers and our colleagues want us to make a bigger contribution to society. Businesses need to work harder than ever to earn trust and loyalty. Today, our customers are asking us: how do you help? What do you stand for? Are you part of the problem, or part of the solution?

We have taken these challenges as our mandate for change. We are a big business and we want to contribute to something bigger than ourselves.

At the heart of this change is our new Core Purpose: we make what matters better, together. Millions of customers come to us for the food and products they need for their lives. What matters to them is that we make the little things better, providing millions of great value products, safely and conveniently every day. After all, every little helps.

Tesco has grown to be a very big business and has done so by focusing on the little details that matter to customers. Today we have over half a million colleagues, tens of thousands of suppliers and distributors and we are part of more than 6,000 communities around the world. For all of my colleagues I hope that ‘making what matters better, together’ will galvanise them into a formidable force – a force for good in everything we do. That is why we have articulated a new value to help us make what matters better: we use our scale for good.

This new value will help us to build on the essential work we are already committed to as a responsible corporate citizen. Whether it’s trading responsibly, reducing our impact on the environment, being a great employer, or supporting local communities, doing the right thing matters to Tesco. Failing in these areas is a risk to the business and a loss to society.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in the way we manage our global supply chain. That is why, this year, when it emerged that some meat products sourced from across Europe had been contaminated with traces of horsemeat, we acted as a matter of urgency to get to the bottom of the issue. It is essential that all our products are safe, honestly labelled and sourced to the highest standards. Our promise is simple: if it isn’t on the label, it won’t be in the product.

Our scale also gives us an opportunity to make a positive difference to some of the biggest challenges facing the world. We have given a lot of thought to where we are most relevant and where we have an authentic contribution to make. That’s why in this report, we have set out three important areas where we believe we have the skills, expertise and resources to make a meaningful difference: our three big ambitions.

  • We want to create new opportunities for millions of young people around the world
  • We want to help and encourage our colleagues and customers to live healthier lives and through this help to tackle the global obesity crisis
  • We want to lead in reducing food waste globally

We have core competencies which we will draw upon to achieve each of these ambitions.

We are a major global employer which means we understand how to provide opportunities for people in their working lives. So we want to use that to help millions of young people who are worried about their future and are uncertain how to get a foothold in the world of work.

We take seriously our responsibility to provide good quality, good value food, safely to millions of people every day. So we want to be a positive force in helping people to have healthier lifestyles and thereby tackle the global obesity challenge.

And ‘waste not want not’ is at the heart of every little helps. So it is natural for us to want to take a leading role in preventing the enormous quantities of food going to waste every day around the world.

I believe these ambitions demonstrate our new value. They express our determination to use our scale for good to create greater value for society.

Our starting point is that we need to understand the challenge we are taking on. Therefore, over the past six months, teams from across the business have been gathering data and working together to identify where and how we can act most effectively. Over the coming months, we will set out plans and commitments, including how we expect to track and measure our progress over time. We are laying the foundations now for a further significant contribution to society in the years to come.

This is it. The world is changing and Tesco is changing too.

Philip Clarke signature

Philip Clarke
Chief Executive


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