Clarke makes a play to show investors he means business

 
Elizabeth Fournier
PHILIP Clarke’s power grab for Tesco’s UK business last month was a bold move by the flailing supermarket’s chief executive.

It left analysts predicting a crunch year for Clarke – who took over from Terry Leahy in March last year – with a clear case of sink or swim on the cards should he fail to shake up domestic operations within 12 months.

The shift in Value branding means the first box has been ticked on Clarke’s checklist. By dropping the iconic blue and white stripes but saying it will raise the standard of ingredients, Tesco is looking to appeal to the new recessionista – the frugal shopper who’s looking for cheaper options but just won’t compromise on quality. It’s a smart opening move by Clarke, and investors should expect more visible changes over the next few months as he asserts his authority. But a simple change of packaging won’t keep investors sated for long. Clarke will need to prove he’s got more than a few new fonts up his sleeve if he really wants to show he can be master and commander.