Tesco's preliminaries today holds few surprises. The 6% fall in annual profits and 1.4% decline in like-for-like sales haVE been well trailed and the markets may even mark the stock up after recent pressure. The announcement and other news gives a much stronger sense of Tesco tomorrow and joins dots on previous Cheshunt comments.
1. Superstores will become mini-malls combining a mixed footprint of reduced Tesco food stores, other retailers, food outlets and other entertainment activities. In respect of the UK, today's announcement notes:
"We have been testing the ingredients for our large destination stores. We introduced our 'Next Generation' F&F departments to 104 of our stores this year, with around 140 planned for the year ahead. We will also expand our casual dining offer by opening over 100 Giraffe, Decks and Harris+Hoole outlets next year. As well as remodelling our stores, we have also trialled an overall reduction of our selling space in two Extra stores this year. We repurposed a total of 41,000 square feet across both stores and introduced new tenants. In Newport we reallocated general merchandise space, introducing discount-department store 'Original Factory Shop' and children's soft-play centre 'Funky Monkeys'. At Stockton, we introduced an 'Xercise4Less' gym on the mezzanine, and a 'Funky Monkeys'. We are pleased with these two stores and plan to complete another five similar projects within our Extra format in 2014/15"
And similarly in Central Europe
"We are making the most of our existing assets...Our store in Budaors, Hungary is one of our best examples, with c.50,000 square feet - around a third of the original store space - repurposed to include H&M and Sports Direct in the development".
2. Dominic Walsh writing today's City Diary in The Times, calls out the "expanding Family Dining Division" and the increasing presence of senior ex Mitchells and Butler management in the business. This looks like an earlier question of whether Tesco might become the next Whitbread, may be much closer to the mark than originally speculated.
3. If you didn't see it, Tesco Finance made almost as much money as Tesco Europe.....but whether either of these elements of the mix have long-term potential is unclear. The European profits fell by 27% this year and business operates on a paltry 2.57% trading margin. Banking whilst a stellar performance in the group, with profits up 1.6% and 19.34% trading margin has a different challenge: scale. One can imagine an Amazon Bank taking on all-comers and it is hard to see how Tesco creates long-term sustainable advantage
Back to Dominic Walsh, he also notes Bookmaker Paddypower
are taking bets on Phil Clarke's likely successor. This is especially harsh in the light of today's announcement. There are real signs of a New Tesco emerging. Whether shareholders give Clarke the opportunity to see his vision fulfilled, remains to be seen.