When connected to business, the term ‘lab’ has connotations of discovery and a willingness to explore new technologies and strategies.
Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket, started their own lab in 1994 as a way of exploring ideas such as the creation of their superstores and website. The Tesco Lab has since looked at new advancements such as hackathons and contactless payments.
Nick Lansley, the former head of Tesco Labs, left his post last month calling an end to a career spanning 30 years at the retailer. Despite only joining Tesco Labs at the start of last year, it’s predicted that his departure is going to have a detrimental effect on the lab’s performance.
Not a good year for Tesco Labs in general, it developed and released an app for the Google Glass the day before the internet giant informed the world that the device would not be going on sale. At a time when Tesco is trying to cut costs to counteract the emergence of low-cost competitors like Aldi and Lidl, investing money in a project that is unlikely to ever get off the ground will hurt even more.
Although it’s thought that Lansley hasn’t been poached by another company, his departure will not be easy to take for Tesco. Now embarking on a leadership restructure programme for the company’s executives, it seems that Lansley has thrown a spanner in the works.
With former UK managing director suspended in 2014 due to the unearthing of £264m over-estimation in profit, Dave Lewis, the company’s CEO, would have wanted the leadership change up to have happened as smoothly as possible. Although reports suggest that Tesco’s shake-up will go ahead regardless, losing such an influential figure is not something they would have wanted.
With Tesco Lab’s having their eye on a number of different projects, including a ’Health Hackathon’ and a ‘HealthBuddy’ there are a number of things that Tesco would have wanted Lansley to be involved in. His departure however will represent a change in the guard at the top of the Open Innovation lab and pave the way for a new innovator who can help Tesco fight against the industry’s main challengers, Aldi and Lidl.