Listen to this article
From: Sir Terry Leahy
To: Senior Tesco staff
As you will have read the Women’s Institute (WI) in Cornwall has begun a campaign to blockade supermarkets which they claim are killing small shops. They may yet receive the backing of the national federation of WIs. While this is aimed at all supermarkets, we must realise that Tesco is often the focal point for these sort of protests.
We take this threat seriously. Their website talks of 215,000 upmarket affluent women in their ranks and you saw what they did to Tony Blair. A profile of the WI magazine shows 79 per cent of readers are over 55; 67 per cent describe themselves as retired or as homemakers, 94 per cent are homeowners and 78 per cent are mortgage free. In other words, they have time and money to spend and an abiding interest in gardening, cookery and Tom Jones.
They have the freedom to potter around from one shop to the next and value those little chats with traders and like to wile away the hours in jolly banter with the butcher.
We are planning a PR campaign to bolster our image with the WI. You will already have seen the plans for our 2006 Tesco calendar in which myself and other senior executives will be posing naked behind Tesco own-brand products to raise money for breast cancer. Tracey Bennett (white fats and lards), will oversee the female calendar. We have also drawn up an action plan to tackle the threat.
Step 1) We will shortly unveil our new Tesco Village shop (once our purchase of 200 new village sites clear the competition authorities) offering all the key features of a small local store. The frontage will feature boxes filled with muddy potatoes and manky fruit. Just inside the door will be a cash-machine charging no less than £1.50 for withdrawals. All Tesco village stores will have only one till, staffed by a slow-moving semi-retired pensioner, who will abandon the cash register to search for bottles of Domestos any time the queue looks like falling below three people. We will provide training to ensure he engages in no less than five minutes of banter per customer once the queue reaches six or above. They will stock a small range of rental films - available only on video and all starring Chuck Norris or Cheryl Ladd.
The village stores must sell a small range of Findus frozen meals, at least two different types of shampoo and devote a whole shelf to Fray Bentos pies and Atrixo hand cream.
Step 2) Existing supermarkets in strong WI areas will be remodelled to recreate the feeling of an old high street. The area around the meat counter must be covered in sawdust and decorated with plucked and throttled chicken. Staff will wear dirty white overalls on which they wipe their one knife after serving each customer and be trained to inquire whether customers “have anything special planned for the weekend”.
The fish counter will adopt a similar style, though with added flies. Fruit and veg will be sold in easy-tear brown paper bags with a guarantee of greenfly or your money back. Our chemist counters will be staffed by loaf-haired women with glasses who can never sell what is wanted because the pharmacist is at lunch.
GM products, ready meal and junk food will kept in the poor and beastly working parents express aisles, which will be hidden from view behind enormous displays of Omega 3 eggs.
To bolster that walking from shop to shop high street feeling extra sprinklers will be installed and set to rain down on customers. We will also be widening the aisles and employing staff on mopeds to zoom past, mowing down children who break free of their mothers. The floor must be uneven with at least one pot hole per aisle. Customers will be required to give up their shopping trolley at the end of each row and carry their goods to the next section before loading them into a new trolley. Clearly we cannot let shoppers take their trolleys with them on the half mile walk to their car.
Step 3) As part of our campaign to win back the WI’s hearts and minds we will institute a WI loyalty scheme, under which on production of their card all WI members will be given an automatic 15 per cent mark-up on their bills as long as they can prove they have spent at least two hours on their shopping (90 minutes if they were only after six items). In addition they will get a free Rosemary Conley fitness video, a “Iive to grocery shop” bumper sticker.
Get alerts on Columnists when a new story is published