Troubled UK supermarket Tesco unveils revival plans

Troubled UK supermarket Tesco unveils revival plans

LONDON-Agence France-Presse
Troubled UK supermarket Tesco unveils revival plans

Britain's biggest grocer Tesco plans to sell assets and cut hundreds of millions of pounds of costs to fund lower prices in store as part of its plan to fight back from the biggest crisis in its 95-year-history. REUTERS Photo

British supermarket giant Tesco launched cost-cutting plans Jan. 8 to shut stores, sell assets and axe its dividend, in a bid to revive its fortunes and recover from an accounting scandal.

The nation’s biggest retailer announced the news in a gloomy statement which revealed sliding sales in the key Christmas trading period, as it continues to face fierce competition in its home market.

Tesco said it will close its head office, slash capital expenditure, shut 43 “unprofitable” shops and significantly revise its store building program.

The group agreed to sell the Tesco Broadband internet arm and Blinkbox TV-streaming service to telecoms firm TalkTalk for an undisclosed amount.

And Tesco cancelled a final-year shareholder dividend for the 2014/2015 financial year, adding it was exploring options to dispose of its Dunhumby data analytics business.

Tesco, which did not outline potential job losses, will overhaul central overheads to deliver 250 million ($377 million, 319 million euros) of savings per year, at a one-off cost of 300 million.

“We have some very difficult changes to make,” said Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis in the statement.

“I am very conscious that the consequences of these changes are significant for all stakeholders in our business but we are facing the reality of the situation.

“Our recent performance gives us confidence that when we pull together and put the customer first we can deliver the right results.”       

The supermarket chain will meanwhile shut its main headquarters in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, in 2016, and move to Welwyn Garden City. Tesco, facing pressure in Britain from supermarket price wars and German-owned discounters Aldi and Lidl, also faces various probes after the giant admitted overstating its profits by 263 million earlier this year as a result of accounting errors. The group meanwhile revealed Thursday that total sales, stripping out the impact of new floor space and excluding petrol, fell 0.6 percent in the six weeks to January 3 from a year earlier. In Britain, sales declined by 0.3 percent. 

In an attempt to boost flagging sales, Tesco has overnight slashed prices on a number of its best-known products in Britain.