What’s it like being poached by Somerfield?
I was sad to leave Sainsbury’s - there’s still work to be done there,
but sometimes opportunities are too good to miss.
With Sainsbury’s announcing yet another fall in profits and Somerfield
revealing sales well below the sector average, aren’t you jumping from
one sinking ship to another?
Sainsbury’s performance has nothing to do with why I am leaving; in many
ways that kind of performance provides the biggest opportunities for
As for Somerfield, the group sales, which include the Food Giant chain
and a number of unmodernised Gateway stores, disguise a far better
performance from the Somerfield supermarkets. I think Somerfield is
strategically very well placed in the convenience food sector.
How long were you at Sainsbury’s and what was your role in launching the
I was there for 22 months. My department was responsible for developing
the card and the whole area of relationship marketing.
When Tesco launched its Clubcard, Sainsbury’s sneered that this was a
cheap tactic that it wouldn’t emulate. Wasn’t it nerve-wracking for you
watching Tesco’s undoubted success and knowing that it had taken a giant
leap forward in the innovation stakes?
I wasn’t at Sainsbury’s when Tesco launched its card, but once it had
launched it was obvious it was going to benefit from being first, so
there was little advantage in Sainsbury’s rushing to launch its own.
It’s much better to take your time and get it right. It seems to have
worked, since the Reward Card is probably more innovative than the Tesco
Somerfield, of course, doesn’t have its own loyalty card yet, although
it does issue the Argos Premier Points card. Even if you do launch one
now, isn’t it a bit late in the day? After all, Sainsbury’s card hasn’t
stopped the group’s profit slide.
I can’t comment on what Somerfield may do because I’m not there yet, but
the Sainsbury’s card has shown real benefits, both to customers and in
What is the future for supermarket loyalty cards?
I think they are probably here to stay. The financial services tie-up
will become more integral to the proposition of a loyalty card, but the
real future is in the area of database marketing, using customer
information that loyalty cards allow you to collect.
Will supermarket direct marketing focus increasingly on the biggest
The key issue is not so much targeting today’s big spenders but finding
tomorrow’s big spenders. Loyalty is not just about people who spend a
lot of money, it’s about what proportion of their available grocery
spend they spend with you.
Is that a record for the number of times the word ’spend’ appears in two
sentences? Rhetorical question, no answer required.
What’s the secret of successful direct marketing, in a nutshell?
Effective customer segmentation.
Do you shop at Somerfield?
I currently shop at Sainsbury’s but also visit stores owned by
Will you be shopping at Somerfield?
Yes, I will, although not to the exclusion of anywhere else.
Appearance: ’Slim, medium build, bright blue eyes’
Status: Married, no kids
Income band: Six figures
Occupation: Market development director at Somerfield.