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“Asda is very one-dimensional. They have only got price in their golf bag. They are a one-club golfer”, says Greg Lawless, a City consultant talking to the FT about Andy Bond’s decision to stand down as chief executive of Asda.
This is a ridiculous oversimplification. It also helps to expain how difficult it is to keep investors on side – and by extension customers. Perhaps Mr Bond is leaving because he is bored at having only one club to use. But his successors are unlikely to put the club away.
For local retailers, who have seen their margins squeezed and their shoppers lured away by Asda, there is likely to be no relief in the battle to win and retain customers. Big packaged goods companies will still rely on Asda for one in five sales or more. Shoppers in the UK are keener than ever on promotions, accounting for one in three sales according to Kantar Worldpanel.
What local retailers may learn from Mr Lawless’s comments is the importance of a clear strategy. Asda has set out its stall as the cheapest supplier and its shoppers value that. No-one else can build the scale (supported by its US parent Wal-Mart) to compete with its market positioning.
In your local market, you need to have a stand out proposition: the most convenient store, the quirkiest shop, the friendliest local champion. It is a good thing to be a “one club golfer” if your club gets the job done.
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