Tesco to ramp up social media in “sharper” marcoms drive

Tesco says it must improve its marketing to drive growth in the UK after reporting falling sales in the final quarter of the year.

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Chief executive Philip Clarke told Marketing Week that using more social media and improving in-store communications will be at the heart of Tesco’s efforts to ’sharpen’ its customer communications.

“When a customer goes into a store, it¹s our shop window, so we need to make sure we keep it relevant and change it often to create more engagement,” he says.

Tesco recently launched a Facebook hub to act as a focal point for its customer relationships online.

Clarke admitted the UK business “can do better” during his first trading update since taking over from Sir Terry Leahy as chief executive.

In the UK, like-for-like sales fell 0.7% in the final quarter and were flat for the full year.

Clarke adds: “Our basic operating standards are fine, our prices are good and we’ve done a lot of things well but we have to get better at executing our strategy. The issues aren’t structural, they are in the detail.” Tesco’s group sales were up 8.1% to £67.6bn and pre-tax profit was up 12.3% to £3.8bn for the 52 weeks to 26 February. Tesco’s operations in

Asia and Europe contributed nearly 70% of the group’s profit growth in the year but Clarke admits some of its overseas businesses, such as US chain Fresh & Easy, “still have some way to go”.

He outlined six objectives to improve the global and UK business, including leveraging its global scale, building its retail services such as Tesco Bank and introducing multi-channel operations in overseas markets.

Tesco wants to extend its online range to more than 100,000 products and introduce more innovation to improve its general merchandise ranges such as fashion and home, which Clarke confesses have been lacking.

The supermarket plans to open a network of in-store bank branches next year and offer mortgages by the autumn, depending on FSA approval.

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