John Allan, Tesco Chairman was speaking today (10th May 2022) on Radio 4 regarding the cost-of-living impact on customers and how some customers were asking checkout staff to stop scanning items when the shop got to a particular value. Staff were being asked to stop at £40, for example as they didn’t want to spend any more than that.
He then went on to detail an “overwhelming need” for a windfall tax on the energy companies and for the money to be diverted to help the public. I couldn’t agree more.
Great sentiment and whilst that’s being worked on, let’s have a look at Tesco themselves;
To the year end of February 26th 2022, their pre-tax profits trebled from £636m to £2.03bn which is pretty impressive. In fact, they haven’t done bad at all during this COVID malarkey and out the other side.
When these profits were announced in April 2022, the Chief Executive Ken Murphy said, “Against a tough backdrop for our customers and with household budgets under pressure, we are laser-focused on keeping the cost of the weekly shop in check – working in close partnerships with our suppliers, as well as doing everything we can to reduce our own costs.”
He added that Tesco was keeping the rise in cost of living “a bit under the number for the overall market”.
Let’s break down his statement a little, he’s acknowledging the difficulties that his customers are experiencing, which is nice, he concedes that prices need to be kept low, good. Now, considering Tesco’s historical reputation of poor treatment of its suppliers, and its sharp practices the “working in close partnerships with our suppliers, as well as doing everything we can to reduce our own costs.” is a bit concerning. I wouldn’t want to be a supplier to Tesco, I think that I’d end up being squeezed and feel the pinch far more than they would. Somehow, I think they’ll (Tesco) find a way to maintain their margins.
And what if Tesco do this? Then just apply a windfall tax on their profits, John Allan is already on board with the concept for the energy companies, I’m sure that he won’t mind if it’s applied to his company for the greater good.
And for the other supermarkets? We’re watching you.