Tesco seeks more time for revival

Tesco bosses pleaded for more time for their turnaround today after coming under fire from unhappy shareholders at the supermarket's annual meeting.

Tesco's market share declined to 29% from 30.5% earlier this month
Tesco's market share declined to 29% from 30.5% earlier this month

Chairman Sir Richard Broadbent said management should be allowed to see through its revival plans in a period which has seen the supermarket lose market share to German discount retailers Aldi and Lidl.

Sir Richard said that to "hunker down" and run the firm defensively as a price-cutting business was the wrong strategy.

The firm said its policy of revamping around 650 large stores, developing its online presence allied with cutting prices was the right way forward.

Sir Richard told the meeting at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London: "You, and we, want to see better performance. We believe that the considered steps we are taking will deliver better performance in a sustainable fashion for the long-term future of the business."

Earlier this month, Tesco saw its market share decline to 29% from 30.5%, while its sales slipped 3.1% from a year ago, according to the latest till-roll figures from Kantar Worldpanel.

Over the last year, investors have watched their shares lose 18% of their value.

Under-pressure chief executive Phil Clarke said that while its more than 1,600 convenience stores and its online business were doing well, 80% of its UK sales came from its larger stores which needed to be upgraded.

Mr Clarke said the firm has revamped 300 large stores this year, but there were still another 350 to go.

He plans to improve these stores, including by adding bakeries, Harris + Hoole coffee shops and the restaurant chain Giraffe.

But one small shareholder Anthony Lee said: "You are not Madonna, you are not a church, you are a general store. You do not need to be loved.

"Once you have lost your reputation, it takes a long time to get it back."

Another shareholder attacked the legacy of former long-serving boss Sir Terry Leahy who took the retailer into the US market in 2007 only to see it withdraw last year at a cost of £1.2 billion.

Small investor Michael Mason-Mahon said Sir Terry was "another chief executive who was paid millions for losing billions."