Branded Goods Makers 'Have Head in the Sand.' (Tesco PLC's David Robey Criticizes Food Manufacturers) (Tesco's New Aggression)

Article excerpt

Tesco last week wrote the obituary of most of the UK's grocery manufacturers and told them in no uncertain terms -- if you die it's your own fault.

Most 'branded goods' makers have their head in the sand and are out of touch with the consumer, newly appointed director of marketing David Robey told an IPA conference in London.

The real split today, Robey intimated, is not between retailers and manufacturers but between companies with 'real' brands (including the grocery multiples) and those with pseudo brands -- products which fail to provide real product benefits or value for money, or which fail to get the production, R&D or promotional support they need.

"They are not brands in my view. They fall into the category 'manufacturer label'.

"These pseudo brands will continue to decline, and the makers of manufacturer label have only themselves to blame," he said.

Robey's hard-hitting and at times abrasive speech had the ad agency audience in nervous titters. But he failed to seek the joke.

And while much of his argument is hardly new to any of his audience it is unprecedented for a company like Tesco to go public in such blatant terms.

Dismissing the term 'own-label' as "old-fashioned and irrelevant", Robey attacked UK grocery manufacturers for making no attempt to understand retailer needs, for seeing retailers simply as a channel for distribution, and for not wanting them to make an "adequate" profit.

UK food manufacturers "no longer understand the consumer any more. They haven't done so for some time. Their marketing departments can most charitably be described as ivory towers; their agencies are more concerned with flattering their client's ego than anything else," he blazed. …