Tesco sees improved trading amid planned store closures and UK boss hire

Halfords boss Matt Davies will take up role in June, while Tesco plans for 43 store closures and consolidation of head office locations.
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Retail giant Tesco has seen an improved performance over Christmas, with UK like-for-like sales falling at 0.3 per cent in the six weeks to January 3rd.

The results offer a softer drop when compared to the plummet of 5.4 per cent in the previous quarter.

In its efforts to recover ground lost towards the end of last year, the firm has hired Halfords boss Matt Davies who will guide the firm through its efforts to consolidate its head office locations, closing Cheshunt in 2016 and making Welwyn Garden City the UK and Group centre.

Davies will head the group’s UK and Ireland business effective from June 1st this year.

As part of the firm’s plans to turn UK business around, Tesco will close 43 unprofitable stores, many of which will be Express shops. It will restructure central overheads, simplify store management structures and increase working hour flexibility, reports Retail Week.

Tesco now forecasts the plan will deliver savings of around £250m per year at a one-off cost of £300m.

Tesco chief executive, Dave Lewis has not been able to put a figure on the number of redundancies the restructure and closures will entail, but has declared his goal of reducing Tesco’s central overheads by 30 per cent.

While the future may look gloomy to the company’s expansive personnel, the consumer looks destined to benefit as the grocer also announces its plans to fight back against discount retailers with price investment.

Lewis said: “We are seeing the benefits of listening to our customers. The investments we are making in service, availability and selectively in price are already resulting in a better shopping experience.

“A broad-based improvement has built gradually through the third quarter, leading to a strong Christmas trading performance. There is more to do but we have taken the first important steps in the right direction.

“We have some very difficult changes to make. 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 our situation.

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

The retailer has reported that Black Friday promotions resulted in its highest week of sales on record for Tesco Direct, contributing to 22.2 per cent like-for-like sales growth in online merchandise for the Christmas period.

Halfords has said it is in the process of finding a replacement for Davies, who will stay as chief executive until May.

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