Sir Terry Leahy’s tips for growth

Sir Terry Leahy, former CEO of Tesco, says retailers should be building trust, using data, loyalty and sustainability to drive growth.


Leahy, who retired at the beginning of March, joined Tesco as its first marketing director in the early 90s and as CEO led the retail chain’s global expansion for the past 14 years.

Speaking at the Retail London Conference today (6 April), Sir Terry outlined his view of how to grow a retail business in tough times.

Trust – “Building trust is important because trust is the rarest commodity in business.”

Information – “We have lots of information about our customers but they also have lots of information about us as businesses. Don’t hide from it. Use it to create a dialogue and involve consumers more in decision making. Persuade them to tell you more about their lives because you can create a lot of value from good use of information.”

Health – “There are huge motivations for people to look and feel good, so any business that helps them feel better about themselves, stay healthier and live a longer life is going to be a business in demand.”

Busy – “People believe they are busier than ever before so they want convenience. You [retailers] have a to make it easier for them to use your products.”

Simplicity – People have more choice and more opportunity in their lives, but choice is complex and confusing. Don’t just offer consumers loads of choice, go beyond the product and work out what is useful to consumers. Make your products quick and satisfy to use.”

Loyalty – “A lot of what we do encourages people to be promiscuous. You need to put your marketing money behind your existing customers and reward them for being loyal. The economics are much better in terms of return on investing behind loyalty.”

Going green – “There has got to be a revolution in consumption. People often ask if businesses can be green and grow at the same time. The truth is you won’t grow unless you’re green. Customers and legislation will demand that the company you offer them is compatible with sustainability.”