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Tesco CEO Identifies Post-Recession Growth Drivers

NEW YORK -- During a session at this week's NRF convention, Sir Terry Leahy, chief executive of Tesco PLC, identified six drivers for growth coming out of the recession, Retailwire reported.

"The world hasn't changed in my view," Leahy said. "Customers still want a better life. They still want the material benefits of a better life and that's the business opportunity for us. If we can help those people to a better life, we've got a business and that's just as true now as it was coming out of the last recession in 1992."

Speaking at a session entitled "How Leadership, Loyalty and Transparency Fuel Growth," Leahy said the six drivers for growth include:

-- Trust: With life becoming ever more complex, consumers will navigate toward organizations they trust. Said Leahy, "That trust comes from the consumer judging the organization. 'What has that organization done for me in my life? Is it more concerned about me than itself?' And if you can demonstrate you're doing things for the customer, they'll respond with trust and they'll respond with long-term loyalty."

-- Information: Just as businesses know much more about consumers, consumers know a lot more about businesses. As such, businesses must be transparent. "You can't hold different faces to different stakeholders. What you are is what you are. But make that a strength because when people feel they know you, it starts to build trust. And use this rich information to develop and engage consumers, involve them in your business planning, involve them in your product development, listen to what they have to say about your business ... The more you do that -- the richer, the deeper the relationship -- the more it builds loyalty. They actually can become advocates for your business," he said.

-- Health: Said Leahy, "It's a basic anthropological drive that everyone wants to live forever and look good, and businesses that help consumers do that are going to see growth." He noted products across fitness, fashion, cosmetics and foods fill this need.

-- Convenience: With people facing time constraints, convenience stores such as Tesco Express and 7-Eleven; ready-made meals and snack foods; and self-scanning terminals are all answering the call for convenience, according to Leahy. The expected growth in mobile shopping also feeds this need, he noted.

-- Simplicity: While consumers have a wealth of information and abundant choices, Leahy believes "it's harder and harder to make satisfying decisions. People don't just want more and more products. They want problems in their lives solved. So those businesses, services and processes that actually solve a problem, they're the ones that are going to be rapidly adopted." As examples, he mentioned the iPhone, the Sky Plus personal video
recorder in the U.K., ATM machines and self-scanning in supermarkets.

-- Climate change: Leahy noted that it "seems incontrovertible" that the developed world is going to have to live on 80 percent less carbon. He said, "It won't mean less consumption; people want a better life. But it will be very different consumption and that's the opportunity. There's a huge need for a different form of consumption and from that need comes business opportunities. Those retail businesses that respond first and best to the consumers' needs for low-carbon products and low-carbon living in an affordable way, they'll do the best."

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