Tesco has hired a new brand director to try to turn round the battered image of Britain’s biggest retailer.
Michelle McEttrick, who will join the supermarket chain on 18 May, previously worked at Barclays for four years but left the bank a year ago, according to her profile on LinkedIn.
Before joining Barclays, McEttrick had worked on the bank’s account at the advertising agency BBH – the one chief executive Dave Lewis hired for Tesco in January.
BBH had already worked for Lewis in his previous job at Unilever, although it is not clear whether McEttrick had been involved.
Lewis has said Tesco needs to win back the public’s trust after a series of scandals have hurt the group’s reputation. One of his first actions was to send thousands of head office staff, including senior executives, to work in stores in a demonstration that Tesco valued customers.
Lewis, brought in from Unilever in September, has pledged to restore trust in Tesco’s tarnished brand by cutting prices, improving service and products and giving suppliers a fairer deal. He hired BBH and the brand consultant Blue Rubicon to advise on restoring the company’s image.
During the four years McEttrick worked for Barclays, the bank was mired in scandal and became deeply unpopular with customers and regulators. Her LinkedIn profile says she worked on drawing up a new set of values to put the bank back on course after its traders were found to have manipulated Libor interest rates.
She is one of a series of hires by Lewis to reinvigorate Tesco’s neglected UK business. Matt Davies, the former head of bike and car parts chain Halfords, is joining to run the UK operation.
McEttrick may help decide the fate of Tesco’s well-worn catchphrase “Every little helps”. The phrase has been parodied as “Every Lidl helps” – a nod to one of the German discounters that is taking Tesco’s business.
As Tesco grew into one of the world’s biggest retailers, campaigners accused it of treating suppliers shoddily, carpeting the UK with lookalike stores and forcing small rivals out of business. But consumers bought the products in the belief the group offered quality and value.
The horsemeat affair of 2013, however, put a big dent in Tesco’s reputation and shoppers began to doubt its shops offered value for money compared with Aldi and Lidl. Sales started to slide and criticism mounted.
Tesco’s woes became apparent last year when it issued five profit warnings as UK sales fell and the group was embroiled in a £263m accounting scandal linked to aggressive charges demanded from suppliers. Tesco is being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office and the supermarket regulator.
Robin Terrell, Tesco’s group customer officer, said: “Michelle brings a real diversity of expertise and experience to Tesco. Her experience spans working on and leading the rejuvenation of British Airways and Barclays at BBH, to building the world’s largest digital food brand, allrecipes.com, and working for agency clients including Coca-Cola and Frito Lay.”
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