Has Tesco's Results Pissed People Off?

As we venture deeper into the recession, this week supermarket giant Tesco released record profits of £2.95 billion pounds. You would have thought it would be great news to have a company performing so strongly despite the downturn with loads of money available to pass on to staff and suppliers! Well I think it has had the opposite effect. In these tough times with people struggling to make ends meet, is it best practice for Tesco to promote making more money than ever before? I think not.

Consumers like a good guy. For a long time Tesco has been that good guy, slashing prices to make our shopping budgets go that bit further. However their overwhelming size is now starting to have the opposite effect on consumers. Tesco have destroyed small local shops, a sense of community in some respects has been lost and word has got out that they've got a bad reputation for hanging suppliers by their balls too, which has another adverse effect on the community. A couple of these factors are starting to rub the wrong way for Tesco.

Jonathon Warburton, Chairman of baker Warburton's seems to agree. He spoke at the Manchester Business School earlier this week and he mentioned that he fears the size of his own business could turn customers against them as the family ethos it has created is lost and felt that the same was happening with Tesco. He also spoke about how he too was under constant pressure by Tesco to give them more money, in the past 6 months they've had 19 meetings alone.

Of course business is business. Tesco needs to please the shareholders, the whole company strives to hit targets and to increase sales results year on year, that's only natural. You can't help feeling that if the release had been cushioned with news of how Tesco was in the same boat as the consumer, that they were feeling our pain and they were doing everything they could to help, it wouldn't have been as bad. I think an important consideration is how the size of the business has lost it's contact with it's customer base.

Cyclo Sportives 2009

I've pretty much concluded the list of events I'll be taking part in this year. They are:

Cheshire Cat - 29th March 2009 - COMPLETED REVIEW HERE
Ron Sant Reliability Ride Tarporley - 13th April 2009 - COMPLETED REVIEW HERE
Macclesfield Bikeathon - 17th May 2009 - COMPLETED REVIEW HERE
Manchester to Blackpool – 12th July 2009 - COMPLETED REVIEW HERE
Cheshire Plains and Peaks - 26th July 2009 - COMPLETED REVIEW HERE
Rapha Condor Blackpool Sportive – 1st August 2009
Manchester 100m – 6th September 2009
Rourkie's Cat & Fiddle Cycle Challenge - 4th October 2009

As always I'll be joined on most of them by Brad and we'll also be raising money for Christies across the whole lot of rides at Just Giving.

I'll be posting a report on here after each race and you can also be kept up to date on my Twitter.

Training for me started on the turbo over the winter and has worked wonders for early season fitness.

Whether you are new, getting back into it or a regular cyclist I would really recommend these rides, there is a good mix of abilities in the pack and you'll always find someone on the same level as you to battle it out. Plus it's a good way to raise money for charity at the same time.

If you're thinking of entering get in touch it would be good to hear from you. If you have any questions I'll do my best to help.

You can be kept up to date with dates across the country on sites such as Cyclosport.

I hate hills!

Well ride number 2 is now complete, today was the Ron Sant Reliability Ride, a 45 mile loop run by the folks over at local cycling club Weaver Valley. The route started off in Tarporley and took in Burwardsley, Tilston, Hob Hill, right down to Whitewell and back up to Malpas, Egerton Green, and past Beeston and Peckforton Castle.

I personally thought, with the amount of clubs around the area, it would be busy, however only a handful of people turned up. After a glorious Sunday, we woke to a cold, foggy morning and off we set after a relaxed, friendly registration. Along with the miserable weather, I found it hard to get into a rhythm without the vibe and atmosphere of a normal ride at the start.

In the first hour and half, the ride took in numerous climbs and for the hardcore who attempted the 66 and 100 mile courses on the Cheshire Cat I'm sure it would be a breeze. I didn't. I hate hills, always have done. I'm currently loosing weight to make it easier, and the practising so far has seen me improve. Anyway, I got dropped by both a group and Brad, and was behind by a fair few miles. I was climbing well, I kept in the big ring comfortably, I just wasn't climbing fast enough and was getting out of breath pretty quickly. Something wasn't right and having been dropped and now everyone out of sight I stopped and removed my beanie from under my helmet. I've found out today that it's better to feel the chill than to protect from it. My performance totally changed and I managed to catch up with Brad. The second half from Malpas onwards was a lot flatter and I pushed on. I got a good rhythm and was flying along.

However it was from here that it all went wrong. As we registered we were told that there were 2 points which weren't signposted as they had run out of arrows when putting them out. One of the missing arrows was a right on to a main road which was easy to spot, the other however was at a junction to direct you back home, which was also part of the loop we had passed previously at the beginning. Unfortunately a couple of us took the wrong turning, going back round the loop again and ended up doing my own last quarter of the route back to Tarporley instead.

I was a bit disappointed by the turnout, the lack of numbers meant there wasn't the challenge of the chase of busier rides. Pretty much all of the riders that entered were Weaver Valley riders, I met a couple along the way and they were friendly. As with reliability challenges there wasn't a feedstop but the guys were friendly, it was good to do a challenging 45 miles non-stop and the ride took in some nice scenery. I'd recommend it.

Macclesfield Bikeathon 52 is next.

Ron Sant Reliability Ride 2009

The next ride coming up for me this year is the Ron Sant Reliability Ride. Hosted by Weaver Valley Cycling Club, it starts at Tarporley Village Hall at 8.30am on Monday 13th April (Bank Holiday Monday) and is 45 miles long.

I'd love you to tell you more, however I have no idea of the route. I emailed to ask if I could have a map however I was told due to copyright issues I'll only a recieve a map of the route on the morning.

Training has been going well, the Cheshire Cat was a good stretch of the legs, interval training at the gym soon followed on the Tuesday as well as a 10 mile full on time trial on Wednesday and a 20 mile loop to Holmes Chapel on Thursday evening.

13/04/09 - Ride completed read review here.

Is The Internet Making Us Thirsty?

I was driving through a small village called Stockton Heath the other weekend, and I noticed something that made me think. They've just opened a Costa Coffee on the main road through the village. Not just a cute, comfy coffee shop though, but a gigantic shop the size of two retail units. For a village.

You may have noticed that either a Starbucks, Costa or Caffe Nero has opened near to you in the last few months. Walking around Manchester, every street has at least one brand along it. Coffee is big business, worth over 60-80 billion dollars, with sales increasing constantly all the time. For Costa to afford to open a double retail unit in a village like Stockton Heath shows there is demand so why? I think online shopping is the key.

This post follows on from a discussion I started in the office last week and everyone was of the same opinion. We are more likely to buy goods on the internet due to the cheaper price and convenience. I'll admit that I personally haven't bought anything from a shop in months, all my recent purchases have been over the internet due to the easy search of choice and ease of looking through un-pressured at my own time.

Many people feel the same, online sales are booming as I mentioned back in December (Next reported a surge of 20% in their recent figures), yet retail sales are falling but the high street is buzzing. So whats going on?

People say that online shopping will spell the end of the high street. It won't. The high street is buzzing, people like going out and having a mooch. Due to buying online I don't need to go 'shopping'. 'Shopping' now simply becomes a trip out. Shops have become more of a browse than a need to purchase. I can see it with myself sub-consciously, although I do all my shopping online I still like to venture to town, mainly to large retail parks. Yet I find that going 'shopping' is now more setting about a target such as "hey we could go to the Trafford Centre, have a look around, a meal then maybe the cinema what do you think?". Even going into Northwich, we go for a 'pootle around' and 'hey we could pop into Costa for a coffee too for a bit'.

When I go to the Trafford Centre I always go to Caffe Nero for one of their Ice Crushes, they are amazing. I'm lucky to walk out with any other purchase.

A recent trip out to a major Marks And Spencer complex at Handforth Dean was seen as simply a trip out and where did we venture to first when we walked into the store? The coffee shop. The only thing we bought in this whole superstore was a coffee, a fruit shake, banana and fruit mix. This little coffee shop at the back of this gigantic place was rammed, none of the tills even had queues as big in this coffee shop!

Stores are simply having to re-think their strategies, how can we make people stay and spend? Simply a sexy shop window and a 99% off sale isn't a draw anymore. I just get pissed off that they've marked up the products by 99% in the first place!

HMV is already working towards it, with music purchases going nearly all on downloads they have already lost one major revenue stream, and it will only be time before movies and games follow too. One thing they are doing to combat this, while still keeping a profile on the high street, is introducing download kiosks in store surrounded by comfortable sofas.

Another idea for them would be to set up video game contests in stores, perhaps show movie previews and all the while the customer is being served drinks and snacks. Because lets face it, if you're finishing off a hot coffee, you're tied in for at least 5 minutes in the store.

Online shopping buys us more time. More time to chill, relax and socialise as well. Perhaps we will see a boom in more social and leisure venues such as Stockley Working Farm near me. One thing is for sure, I bet they have a coffee shop!