Enough of the international scene: back to business. The Tesco crisis seems to have come to a head - well, the head has been chopped off, anyway. Mr Q will have a better-informed view, but as a simple punter I'm bemused.
The bottom line is the bottom line, of course, but as I go about my shopping Tesco doesn't seem to have screwed up visibly (unlike, say, M&S clothing). In fact, I'd say my local 'superstore' has been steadily upgraded year on year, prices are OK, and if you are in a position to optimise the various promotions they run (particularly by buying in bulk and playing tunes on the petrol points) there is quite a lot of £££ to be saved.
I also thought that they'd responded intelligently to the recession with their phoney 'discount brands'. But no, it seems not, and Aldi & Lidl have done for them. Old man Cohen would never have let that happen: but since the days of MacLaurin they have been resolutely pushing the brand away from the bargain basement. To have been caught in a pincer from below (the Germans), and from above (M&S Foods and Waitrose) is a strange outcome.
The new man ('Drastic Dave' Lewis - sounds promising) comes from Unilever. By a curious coincidence I happen to know a bit about the energy purchasing operations of that company and of Tesco, and have been moderately impressed by both. This may have nothing to do with the issue at hand but it's a data-point.
With an operation and asset-base as big as Tesco there is huge scope for turning things around: (they could start by selling land). Sainsbury was languishing for years, but was never a lost cause and has engineered an up-cycle. Surely Tesco will eventually figure out a formula for the 21st century.
Which is more than can be said for the recidivists at RBS. Yesterday in the comments, Hovis brought our attention to this, the latest episode in what appears to be a disgraceful story we looked at back in February. Were RBS putting the squeeze on SME customers in order to drive the into the hands of their investment arm at knock-down prices ? It doesn't help their case when senior management is caught being economical with the truth.
As with Lloyds, the taxpayer-owner of these wretched institutions can only marvel that, across all the years we have owned the turkeys no-one from Whitehall has taken the management to the back of the bike sheds and marked their cards for them.