Reports yesterday (8 April) claimed that CEO Philip Clarke had already found a replacement for CMO Atkinson, with Sky News saying it was unclear if Atkinson would remain at Tesco in another role or leave.
However, a subsequent report in The Times claimed that Clarke sent an email to staff in which he stood by Atkinson and said there are no plans to hire further senior marketing executives, although the supermarket may look to “strengthen” the team. Tesco declined to comment on the rumours.
Atkinson is responsible for Tesco’s marketing strategy as well as its Clubcard scheme, which is crucial in informing the supermarket’s promotional activity. Tesco is planning to launch a digital version of the loyalty programme later this year that will make its offers and deals more personalised.
Rumours of Atkinson’s departure follow the resignation of Tesco’s chief financial officer Laurie McIlwee amid reports of a strained relationship between the two over the supermarket’s strategy. Tesco announced a new strategy in February that would see it invest in price, quality, range and service to mitigate the threat of the discount grocers.
According to the latest Kantar Worldpanel figures, both Aldi and Lidl saw sales grow at a record pace in the 12 weeks to 30 March and the two retailers now have a combined market share of 8 per cent, up from 7.3 per cent a year ago. By contrast, Tesco’s sales fell by 3 per cent year on year while its market share dropped to 28.6 per cent, from 29.7 per cent, although it remains the market leader.
Tesco is due to update on its performance next week (16 April). Sales over Christmas were down 2.4 per cent.