Archive for the ‘Retail’ Category

Beverley Aspinall: Racing against time at Fortnum’s

March 1, 2006


I am a once-a-year shopper at Fortnum & Mason in London’s Piccadilly.  Every Christmas I push passed out of town visitors and tourists to buy one of their famous puddings and now have I collection of bowls to prove it.

So it seems that I am the typical customer Beverley Aspinall is trying to encourage to use the 300 year old Fortnums as my local shop and get the store back into the black after it recorded its first ever loss of £1.5 million on sales of 39 million last year.

Its a tough challenge but Beverley who at 47 was appointed Fortnum’s managing director last year, is tackling it was a relish and a £24 million budget to spend on turning the store inside out.

Out are the clothing departments to focus on what Fortnum’s does best: food and drink and ‘entertaining’ – cookware, china, table linens and ‘celebrating’ – gifts, scarves and jewellery.  A lightwell is being installed from the roof to the bottom, so those on the ground floor can look up to the higher levels and down to the basement, and see other sales floors.  Finally the store’s three restaurants will become five and updated without losing the character, history and heritage.

Beverley has done it all before….she oversaw the £100 million refit of Peter Jones, the John Lewis store in Sloane Square.  It took five years and she carried on trading throughout the rebuilding, bringing in the project on time and on budget. 

She aims to do the same at the much smaller Fortnums where the work is scheduled to take two years.

“There’s no question of the revamp being delayed. We’ve a tercentenary coming up – we can’t be late, we have to have it finished”, she says.

Thanks for reading Big Business

David Davis


Defender of Tesco’s success

February 27, 2006


When the chief executive has to defend his company in public it is usually to calm angry shareholders about poor results or in a takeover battle. Yesterday Sir Terry Leahy found himself on BBC radio defending Tesco’s success!

In his normal tough and blunt style he was up for the task strongly making the point  that Tesco had to “strike a balance” between helping families to shop on a tight budget and providing a return to shareholders by maximising sales and profits.

Sir Terry is the ultimate ‘one company’ man. He joined Tesco straight after graduating from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) in 1979. He started  as a marketing executive, was appointed to Tesco’s board of directors in 1992, and by the time he was 40 he had worked his way up to become chief executive in 1997.

On his watch the now 48-year-old supermarket boss, Tesco is the dominant force in the UK with at least one in every £8 spent with a retailer now ends up in Sir Terry’s coffers.

By acquisition he has built up the Tesco Express chain of convenience stores and he has created the most profitable online shopping business.

Internationally, Tesco now has a presence in 11 markets in Ireland, Eastern Europe and Asia and recently announced plans to open stores in the United States.

Sir Terry was knighted in 2002, soon after having received the honour of the Freedom of the City of Liverpool which entitles him, amongst other things, to herd his sheep across the city without being arrested.

Quite an honour for a local boy who, according to Liverpool Post “grew up in a pre-fab maisonette on Endbrook road in the Lee Park council estate in Belle Vale”.

Thanks for reading Big Business

David Davis


Trevor Beattie – FCUK ad man with a mission

February 13, 2006


Trevor Beattie is the wonder kid of the advertising business with a mission to get his clients notice – whatever the final outcome.

His long curly hair and leather jackets is an immediate statement of his intentions but it is his approach to advertising that tells it all.

Brought up one of eight children in Balsall Heath, he has perfected the art of being a working class Brummie who can get away with anything.

He had a conventional start to his advertising career, working on everything from cornflakes to toys but it was his campaign for Wonderbras that really got him noticed by his peers, the public and the advertising authorities.

It was no surprise that as a self-proclaimed Socialist he grabbed the chance to handle the New Labour Campaign and it was a set of posters attacking Michael Howard, the then Conservative Leader that got him into hot water and they had to be withdrawn.

But the campaign that really stamped his ‘get noticed’ mantra was using FCUK in the tagline for French Connection, the retail group. It was certainly commercially successful in propelling French Connection up the awareness charts although in some countries it was banned. 

It also started to harm the company’s image in Britain and it was withdrawn last year.

This week sees the launch of his new £2.5 million  campaign for French Connection which is true to Beattie’s mantra of ‘get noticed’…. it ends with two models in a passionate kiss!

Thanks for reading Big Business.

David Davis


Jack & Daisy Left Speechless

January 20, 2006

The recent announcement that Tesco is launching an Internet phone service for customers would have made Jack Cohen, the firm’s founder, and Daisy Hyams, his chief buyer, speechless in utter disbelief.

For, according to legend, Jack who started the firm in 1919 from a barrow with £30 demob money and Daisy, the first woman he employed and who, as chief buyer, became one of the most powerful figures in British retailing, would not allow anyone else to make a telephone call without first justifying the cost. 

Together they built his “Pile it High, Sell it Cheap” chain store empire which today has more than 250,000 employees and nearly 2,000 stores in the UK selling everything from fresh meat and vegetables to clothes, electrical goods, books, insurance, and videos.

Tesco is the most successful online supermarket company and having essentially conquered Britain’s High Street, the firm is now firmly set on international expansion.

The drive overseas started in the mid 1990’s and today has more 100,000 employees in 12 overseas markets in Europe and Asia, with China its No 1 priority.

There are those who argue – particularly competitors – that Tesco has simply become too powerful and uses its muscle to unfairly screw manufacturers and producers on prices.

Clearly they never met with the redoubtable Daisy Hyams who, in her heyday, was known to literally reduce suppliers to tears when it came to haggling over prices.