Clarke said "a few can make a noise and be heard"

Clarke said "a few can make a noise and be heard"

Tesco, the UK's largest retailer, has conceded it is facing something of a battle to win consumer trust in the "new" digital era of retailing.

CEO Philip Clarke said today (12 March) the "digital revolution" has resulted in a "rapid period of change" in UK retail.

Retailers are now working to meet the needs of "connected, informed, demanding, twenty-first century consumers", he said. As the pace of change in consumer expectations and buying patters gathers pace, it is putting "pressures on old established business models", Clarke told the Retail Week conference in London.

One of the major challenges Tesco faces is winning the trust of consumers in the face of some vocal critics, such as pressure group Tescopoly, which has made their presence felt through social media outlets.

"In this open world now a few can make a noise and be heard," Clarke commented on Tesco's critics. "I know that our business is getting better. There is a lag between it getting better and people talking about it."

The company also took a reputational hit when it became embroiled in last year's horsemeat scandal. A number of Tesco private-label products, including frozen beef burgers and spaghetti bolognese, were found to contain undeclared horsemeat that made its way into the supply chain as part of a Europe-wide fraud.

As a result, Clarke stressed success in a digital world "also requires honesty" and supply chain transparency.

"Bigger is no longer seen as better by today's customers... We have to open up our business," Clarke said. "We as a business have to work harder to demonstrate to our customers how we use our scale for the benefit of the communities that we serve."