Over this last week, I have found myself faced with a competitive threat to our community supermarket, Thornton’s Budgens. On the Saturday before Christmas, when most people were winding down for the festive period, Tesco submitted an application for an alcohol licence to open a store in the old HSBC Bank. This is 150 metres from our store.
I found out when a sharp member of our community spotted a tiny notice in the bank window on the 27th of December and alerted me. My immediate reaction was that we need to flight this and I passed on the news to my community network. On reflection and wearing my ‘Heart in Business’ hat, I considered the idea that competition is positive and helps us keep thriving. However, Tesco is far from a business that cares or an institution that competes fairly.
A local resident sent me details of an e-mail that Dave Lewis, the new CEO of Tesco, sent to all staff on his appointment last September in which he said:
“Turning our business around will require change in our culture … We want to work in a business which is open, transparent, fair and honest.”
For me, the key lines where about being “open, transparent, fair and honest.” Was slipping in an application for a license when everyone was on holiday living up to those aims? Could we as a community hold him accountable for this?
The answer from the community was a resounding, “YES!” What I also realised is that people want to do business with companies who care. What everyone said to me was that Thornton’s Budgens (and the other independents) do care. That they do not want their existence to be threatened by Tesco, a company which people see as uncaring, devious, sneaky and generally a poor neighbour. The message from everyone is clear. They do not want Tesco store in the area.
That give me great hope for Heart in Business and suggests that taking a heartful and caring approach is good business practice.
I hope that Dave Lewis will hear our message and realise that if he is to restore shareholder value at Tesco’s, he needs to do what he says and be “open, transparent, fair and honest.”
Or in my words, heartful.