Tesco's Dave Lewis: it's the right time to invest in advertising

Tesco chose to ramp up its advertising spend last year after measures of the brand's public perception improved considerably, chief executive Dave Lewis has said.

Tesco's Dave Lewis: it's the right time to invest in advertising

The retailer increased investment across "traditional" media – TV, radio, print, outdoor and cinema – last year by 68.2%, while its main rivals froze or reduced theirs.

Lewis denied that this had come at the expense of digital spend, saying that overall marketing investment was going up. "We continue to be very active in digital channels," he said.

The Tesco boss was speaking on a media call after the supermarket giant announced its full-year results, which saw a big increase in profit before tax and exceptional costs – that measure was up 64% to £1.28bn. Revenue, meanwhile, was up 2.8% to £57.5bn, while UK like-for-like sales grew 2.2%.

"If you look over the last three years you’ll see a very deliberate strategy in how we spent our marketing money," Lewis said.

The combination of the "Food love stories" campaign, which launched last January, and Tesco’s offers initiative, "Weekly little helps", meant it was "the right time to be investing in it [advertising]," he said.

"If I look at the quality perception of the brand it’s continued to improve strongly – over the three years you see a strong strengthening in the brand," he added, citing YouGov's BrandIndex. "With our customers, loyalty is growing as is the perception of quality and value."

Alongside the positive financial results, Tesco announced it had attracted an additional 260,000 shoppers over the year, based on Kantar data, racked up almost half a million downloads of its mobile payment app, Tesco Pay+, and surpassed 5 million customers for Tesco Mobile.