When a shopper at one of the nation’s most-loved supermarkets complained to the chief executive, the best he was hoping for was a polite acknowledgement.
The disgruntled customer had been upset by the firm’s new store, its patronising adverts, selling de-icers in summer and crazy pricing which saw half-melons sold for the same price as whole ones.
What he didn’t expect was brutally frank admissions from the boss. Edwin Booth, executive chairman of the Booths supermarket chain which has been in his family five generations, let rip at the ridiculous policies of his own firm, and promised change.
Driving change: Edwin Booth, executive chairman of the Booth’s supermarket chain which has been in his family five generations, is hoping to save the iconic chain
Booths has been dubbed the ‘Waitrose of the North’ and has won thousands of fans, including Prince Charles, for its local produce and focus on quality.
In his reply, Booth, 62, said: ‘I cannot for the life of me understand why we should be offering whole melons at the same price as a half-melon. This is patently ridiculous and I will investigate why this is the case immediately.’
Booth took over as executive chairman after the abrupt departure of chief executive Chris Dee in May. ‘I was uneasy about the layout of our new store right from the start and called for a number of changes to be made,’ he told the customer.
‘Sadly these did not materialise and now that I have taken on responsibility for running our business, I am working to address a number of inadequacies that are evident throughout our business.
‘The issue with windscreen de-icers being displayed in the height of summer is one that has been common to the whole business and I would like to think that by now common sense is prevailing.’
The chairman also revealed he was not a fan of the company’s ‘Great Northern Knees Up’ slogan. ‘It is a line that does not sit comfortably with the image of our company and will not be used again,’ he promised.
‘Your letter has been most helpful and I will be circulating it widely,’ he told the customer.
Booths was founded in 1847 by tea dealer Edwin Henry Booth.
The 170-year-old firm has stayed in the hands of the family since then but this year they called in advisers to look for investors for a possible takeover, after it sank to a £14.8million loss.
It has prompted speculation that tech giant Amazon, which has done a deal to sell the chain’s goods online, could snap it up.
Market watchers say Booths could sell for £130million-£150million but the family owners are said to be holding out for a bigger offer.
Yesterday, Booth told the Mail: ‘Feedback is extremely important in how we shape our business and Booths takes pride in open and frank dialogue with customers.
‘The market remains volatile and challenging. It is more important than ever that we are responsive, and listen to our shoppers.’
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