The headlines today are full of one of our major supermarket chains who have announced they are to close 43 stores in the UK and halt construction on some 50 others.
They also intend to close their main Head Office next year. Aw, shame.
Sure, I could extract the juicy (released) details available on the internet, but would much rather give you my personal opinion and experience of this company that simply (IMO) no longer gives good value for money, got too big for its boots, too greedy, and too lackadaisical in its customer service that people stopped shopping there in droves.
‘Superstore Coming Soon’, nearly always meant one of theirs, regardless of there already being one, two, three or even SIX bearing their name in the same area.
I know of an instance where an entire shopping centre in a small community (bakers, hairdressers, butcher, small supermarket, shoe shop, newsagent, wool shop, charity shop and post office) was demolished to make way for one of said superstores, only for the construction to cause chaos to the bus routes, main roads and residents for over a year and it still isn’t finished.
We had one directly behind us (1998-2007) which in the beginning wasn’t a problem and we jokingly said we’d erect a pulley system over the main road from their car park to our back garden rather than have the worry of trying to park when it was really busy (at Christmas and Easter you could not move, it was ridiculous).
When they went ’24 hours’ it wasn’t too bad (apart from being serenaded by ‘The Vehicle is Reversing’ between 4 and 5 am) , but then they extended the premises, TWICE, and the local council got a generous donation plus some super-duper traffic lights on a busy roundabout to make access to their car park easier.
Yeah, coming home from work on a weekday it would take me 25 minutes to get on said roundabout and ten to get off to get home. I only worked 2 miles away, but wasn’t on a direct bus route and as it wasn’t safe to walk, I needed a car.
We were lucky in finding a buyer for our property who didn’t care about the supermarket, which is now over double the original size and one of the biggest in the country.
This chain also has multiple mini outlets that seem to pop up at every opportunity when one of the Little Guys goes under. We’ve shopped in two and were unable to find
what we wanted, but noticed that they only sell named brands and none of their own cheap ranges therein, and any ‘fresh produce’ looked about a week old.
Their customer service also sucks.
The staff seem to have no consideration for Joe Public, are more content to sit and discuss their boyfriends/family/social life than serve waiting customers in the checkout queue, and I made the almost ‘fatal’ mistake of using a 10 items or less manned till with eleven items. The girl made such a fuss about it, embarrassing me in the process as if I’d committed some horrendous sin like doing a dump on the floor, and if I’d had any sense, I’d have just refused to pay, left the lot, and walked out.
One time I overheard the tail end of a conversation from an angry customer who said she’d got better service from one of their competitors, so was told to go and shop there then.
We simply stopped shopping there, loyalty card or not, and in so doing, they lost around £400 a month in custom. I calculated this backwards, as each quarter we would get around £12 cash back, so that had amassed from 1200 points, and if each point equated to a pound spent, then in three months we’d spent £1200. Ouch! Better in my pocket than theirs. I know this amount is not even a drip in their profit margins pool, but imagine if thousands of customers reacted as we did?
I passed one of their mini shops walking the dog this afternoon, and had a private chuckle at the poster in the window:
‘…………… helping you spend less.’
Yep, hit the nail on the head there.
Customers are spending less because they BUY less having discovered the joys and quality of the discounted supermarkets, bargain stores and pound shops which are coming into their own and saving people like me a healthy packet.
Many sell Brand products, especially toiletries and cleaning agents, for as little as a pound, and just before Christmas I got two large bottles of my preferred washing up liquid for 50p each (and that was 750ml bottles having 50% free!).
According to the media, this chain’s profits are down, though they had a good Christmas by all accounts (Bosses’ tipple and bonuses probably), and at the announcement of store closures, not forgetting the intended changes to their staff pension policy (just thought I’d throw that in too), their share prices went up.
I still can’t work that one out, but then to me Big Business figures are never real, just projections and expectations so that the cats can stay fat.