Tesco’s brand director to step down after completing brand turnaround

Michelle McEttrick is leaving the supermarket after six years having played a “key role” in the turnaround of the Tesco brand.

tescoTesco’s group brand director Michelle McEttrick is set to leave the supermarket at the end of May after playing a “key role” in the brand’s turnaround, Marketing Week can reveal.

McEttrick joined Tesco in 2015, brought in under then boss Dave Lewis to shake up its marketing department and address the fact the supermarket was losing sales and share to the discounters.

The week McEttrick’s appointment was announced Tesco posted a historic £6.38bn pre-tax loss, the worst in its 96-year history and the biggest loss ever recorded on the UK high street, following the 2014 accounting scandal.

McEttrick was tasked with revamping the Tesco brand and “rebuilding it from the inside out”. She says she is departing as the turnaround is now complete.

Chief customer officer Alessandra Bellini says McEttrick has “played a key role in delivering the turnaround of the Tesco brand, arguably one of the biggest and most scrutinised in the UK”.

Bellini also credits McEttrick’s “fantastic” contribution to the business and its culture.

McEttrick says: “The brand turnaround is complete and in the past year the brand has gone from strength to strength. Having done what I came to Tesco to do, there is now a great platform to build from so it’s the right time to step away and let the team take the reins.”

Tesco was named Brand of the Year at the Marketing Week Masters in 2020, with its brand health reaching its highest level since 2011. The supermarket also claims it had a net gain in people switching from Aldi for the first time in more than a decade thanks to its ‘Aldi Price Match’ campaign.

The brand turnaround is complete and in the past year the brand has gone from strength to strength.

Michelle McEttrick, Tesco

Tesco was widely praised for its response to the pandemic, both in terms of the in-store experience and its communication with customers. Its ‘Some little helps for safer shopping’ campaign was also found to be among the most effective of any brand in the initial throes of the pandemic, according to Kantar data.

The supermarket saw group like-for-like sales increase 6.3% to £53.4bn for the year ending February 2021. Its profits took a hit though, dropping 19.7% to £825m, reflecting the investment it made in click-and-collect and other online services, as well as making physical stores safe for shoppers during the pandemic.

But new CEO Ken Murphy, who replaced Dave Lewis as CEO in October, expects to see a strong recovery in profitability as the majority of Covid-related costs won’t need to be repeated. And he believes marketing will be “mission critical” as “your brand is your most important asset after your people and your customers”.

Tesco deems marketing ‘mission critical’ following Covid sales boost

McEttrick’s position is not going to be replaced for now, with all her directors due to report directly into Bellini from the beginning of June. These include Tash Whitmey, membership and loyalty director; Simon Threadkell, group marketing director, brand design and customer experience, Matt Kay, customer director, Central Europe; and Claire Pickthall, group customer propositions director.

McEttrick has not confirmed her next move.