Posted by David Davis
Tesco is under renewed attack, again, this week, for wanting to open a 30,000 square foot supermarket in Manningtree, “England’s smallest town”. (For foreign readers, 30,000 square feet is slightly less than 3,000 square metres, or about 0.29 of a hectare. this is not exactly very large by today’s standards, and there will probably not be room for selling tellies, kitchen appliances etc.
You should also be aware that the modern British have a very stange character trait. This is to turn collectively and publicly (at dinner parties and in the media at any rate) against any person or enterprise which professionally and systematically achieves a very very great deal of success in its field. Slightly surprised amateurs who succeed, are not reviled and execrated to any like extent – witness Richard Branson and J K Rowling. By contrast, the flawed, wounded deities, who appear to struggle messianically against impossible odds, such as Tim Henman and Lady Diana, and who then severally fail or die tragically, are canonised.
The British have been fortunate to be able to have forgotten what it was like to “Go Shopping” in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Nowadays, there is a (nearly) free market in retailing, on an American pattern, (except for the mechanics of property development which is quite regulated.) This has spoiled them into needing no memory of what it was like before.
Tesco, one of the “Big Four” with Asda, Sainsbury and Morrison’s (there were five but Safeway underperformed some years ago and was bought for too much money by Morrison’s) has been the most successful and professional in its business model.
That is to say, it has negotiated confidently on price, so being able to undercut much retail competition, while yet having a queue of wannabe suppliers stretching round the world. The result is the highest ROC for sharholders plus generally the lowest overall prices for customers. Couple this with a well-trained friendly staff who know how to “sell”, seem to know their stuff and offer to pack for you, plus not having to drive round for half an hour & then worry about traffic-gauleiters, and you have a winning formula. No wonder certain sections of the British Enemy Class hate Tesco.
Furthermore, they have done the unforgivable; they have (in the words of a lady in the 80s who thrw wine over Sir Terrence Conran at a party) “TAKEN ALL OUR PRECIOUS THINGS, AND YOU HAVE GIVEN THEM TO EVERYONE”.
But I say this: I said it on a Daily telegraph Blog about an hour ago:
Three cheers for Tesco. NO! That’s not enough; four, five, twenty-one!
Thirty-odd years ago, Tesco was down there in the crud with Kwik-Save, and the rest of the 70s poor-service, dirty-produce losers. Who bothers to badmouth Kwik-save now? (It’s effectively bust anyway – read the business pages over the last few months.)
More importantly, Tesco has succeeded so dramatically, because it does what we want (And what all you opponents, in your hearts, want too. In your guts, you all know that it is so!) Tesco brings affordable goods, especially food, and especially nice food, to poor British people, which is most of you on this blog! If as many people really hated Tesco as say they do, it too would be bust; it is not – why? Because you all go there, as do I.
In a sort of pre-capitalist, theoretical, neo-pastoralist world, where there were no “Councils”, and no traffic-Gestapo slobbering their tickets everywhere, and no “pedestrianisation”, and if you could park everywhere in a normal way, then it might be fun to drive into say Much-Binding-In-The Marsh, park outside that lovely little greengrocer that sells fresh local produce every day, queue up to buy it from him/her, have a jolly banter with him and everyone else, then saunter the few yards along the High Street to your car! Great! I’d love it. So would you.
But you were all aslepp on the job while socialist, car-hating Soviets got control of your Town Halls, and stopped your vehicles from even thinking about being anywhere near this poor shopkeeper, so…….he went bust. You also have yourselves all to blame, if you do not like Tesco (and Mothercare, PCWorld, Tiles-R-Us, Staples, Halfords, Currys, Comet, homebase, B&Q….need I go on?) building all these O-O-T shopping centres on farmland and green belt. Enough of you people failed to not-vote-for gumments that allowed local Soviets to allow it.
You also failed to not vote for gumments that cared not a jot for farmers, and used DEFRA as an attack-dog to put them out of business (probably because most of them are naturally conservative – have you thought about that?) Small wonder that they found it more profitable to sell up – their land now vulnerable to “developers” – most of whom are in league with Soviets anyway; foolish not to be!
If you wanted your “little shops” to survive, then you should have fought politically for the transport and access environment that would let customers (modern ones with less and less time to spend all day shopping for the next day) get at them! But enough of you voted Labour, for long enough, in enough kinds of election, especially local ones (for psychological self-gratification) that you have brought what YOU see as the “Tesco-Monster” upon yourselves.
Tesco is wonderful. For the alternative, you can either shop in Britain in the 1950s, or go to an average Soviet-Empire town as late as 1990. you could even have European supermarkets, where the checkout assistants don’t smile at you, there are no carrier-bags (until recently), and they complain if you hand them say a 100-Zloty note for Z-68.19 of goods, and you don’t proffer the exact money!
Think of life without Tesco; absolutely without it, and also without its clones whom you ought in all intellectual honesty to hate equally.
Or do you all just hate Tesco because it’s successful and that’s what the British do?