Ian MacLaurin is chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, chairman of Vodaphone and former chairman of Tesco. He has spent a career in business taking tigers by the tail, but none was as spectacular as the way in which he turned Tesco into the market leader it is today. His business memoir explains how he achieved this. LacLaurin lead Tesco’s Operation Checkout in 1979, which allowed the company to make a clean break with its past and re-positioned itself in the market by discontinuing Green Shield stamps. To achieve this he clashed with the company’s founder “Slasher Jack” Cohen who believed the stamps were the touchstone of the company’s success. MacLaurin won the battle and his plan paid off. By the mid-1970s, stamps had passed their sell-by date and a new generation of customers had emerged. Tiger by the Tail is not a management book and MacLaurin does not plan to become a management guru espousing “transaction processing” and “geometric modelling” of Total Quality Management. The book is a fascinating recollection of daring business experiences and interesting businesspeople. In Tesco there is now a tight, top-down management structure, and MacLaurin plans to bring some of his expertise to the cricketing counties which, in many ways, are like co-ops. In his words, they are one of the great, traditional institutions in retailing and a dominant player in the sector, but one in which the devolution of power to the individual profit centres has meant that it has been unable to adapt to the competitive market in which it now has to trade.
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