Tesco boss hails 100th-birthday ad campaign as Christmas sales edge up

UK supermarket business (just about) delivered fifth consecutive Christmas period of like-for-like sales growth.

Tesco: 'We’re really very happy with the way the campaign worked'
Tesco: 'We’re really very happy with the way the campaign worked'

Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said he was "really very happy" with how the retailer’s 100th-anniversary ad campaign had performed as the supermarket unveiled positive sales results over the Christmas period, despite a decline in the 13 weeks up to 23 November.

The marketing push, marking a century since Jack Cohen opened his first Tesco store in London, kicked off in January with press and TV advertising and ran through multiple executions up to festive spot "Delivering Christmas". It coincided with rival Sainsbury’s celebrating its 150th anniversary.

"We’re really very happy with the way the campaign worked," Lewis said on a call to journalists. "We were very clear about putting customers at the centre and rewarding them with even better value. 

"People have really enjoyed the ad campaign – it’s a bit of fun, it’s humorous, quite empathetic and engaging." The campaign has further increased consumer perceptions of quality and value, Lewis added.

In the six weeks ending 4 January, Tesco’s UK supermarket sales were flat overall but up 0.1% on a like-for-like basis. It is the fifth consecutive Christmas period this measure has been positive, although growth is far lower than last year.

In the 13 weeks to 23 November, UK supermarket sales were down 0.4% like for like, but a better performance at Tesco’s wholesaler Booker meant the total UK and Ireland business grew 0.4% like for like in both periods. However, sales fell substantially in Tesco’s central European business, which the brand put down to a significant restructure, meaning total group sales were down in both periods.

"The UK retail environment is clearly subdued and growth isn’t easy to win," Lewis noted, but added that "we’ve outperformed the market and delivered our fifth consecutive Christmas of growth".

Asked about October’s launch of Clubcard Plus – which offers shoppers a 10% discount on two large shops a month in exchange for a £7.99 subscription fee – Lewis said it was too early to draw any conclusions, but said "we’re really very happy with the way it’s started".

He commented: "The adoption in terms of subscriptions is good – in terms of the dynamic of increasing basket size and people becoming more loyal, the early signs of that are positive."

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