Tesco has kick-started a clear-out of its assets by flogging its Blinkbox and Tesco Broadband services to TalkTalk, with DunnHumby likely to follow but the Clubcard scheme will be sparred the axe.
The strategy has been revealed in today’s trading update, which revealed Tesco has stemmed its decline with a slightly better than expected Christmas period; when fuel is included sales increased 0.1%.
Overall, comparable sales for the three months to the beginning of January were down by 2.9%. In the previous three months, sales had dropped by 5.4%.
However, the supermarket giant said it is closing 43 unprofitable stores across the UK – a “significant proportion” of which will be local convenience shops – while it is also scrapping plans to open a further 49 new “large format” outlets.
Tesco said it had appointed Goldman Sachs to “explore strategic options” for DunnHumby; a move which has been predicted for months. The pressure on new boss Dave Lewis to claw in cash in the face of a disastrous financial performance has been highlighted by the sale of loss-making Blinkbox, which was bought in 2011 for an undisclosed sum.
Just this week, WPP was revealed as the latest possible suitor for DunnHumby, valued at up to £2bn. Several private equity groups – including US buyout specialist TPG and Clayton Dubilier & Rice, which is advised by former Tesco chief Sir Terry Leahy – are also said to be eyeing up the data giant. Tesco admits it has had interest from “a lot of people”, although has not ruled out an IPO for the company.
Founded by Clive Humby and Edwina Dunn in 1989 in the kitchen of their Chiswick home, the business now employs more than 2,000 people in 30 countries, selling information from its 40-terabyte customer insight database.
It also works with 400 of the largest retailers and brand-owners across the world, including Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Diageo, GlaxoSmithKline and Mondelez International.
Tesco took a majority stake in the business in 2001, and Dunn and Humby sold their final 10% stake at the end of 2010. It is estimated Tesco paid nearly £100m for the company.
Former Tesco chief Grant Harrison – the man who appointed DunnHumby and led the Clubcard launch – recently urged Tesco to sell the data firm and scrap the loyalty scheme, too. Speaking exclusively to DecisionMarketing, Harrison said: “Tesco doesn’t own Weiden + Kennedy or its direct and digital agencies. Why should it? Better to hold the data at Tesco and then use another company to carry out creative analysis.”
However, Lewis has confirmed the Clubcard scheme will not be scrapped. He told analysts the loyalty programme was still a significant part of the retailer’s strategy. “It doesn’t mean a different future for Clubcard,” he said.
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