“What scares me about this is that you know more about my customers after three months than I know after 30 years.” — Lord MacLaurin, Tesco’s Chairman (1994).

The “deadly silence”, as Clive Humby described it, which followed his presentation felt endless. It was broken by Lord MacLaurin who uttered the memorable line quoted above.

The analysis of the Clubcard trials presented by Humby, Tim Mason and Grant Harrison, to the Tesco board of directors on 22 November 1994 shattered some long held assumptions. What compelled most was the realization that Tesco could become UK’s market leader by replicating the sales growth Clubcard had achieved during trial.

Clubcard was launched a few months after the presentation. Tesco subsequently grew at a faster pace than competitors, to become UK’s largest retailer. Today one in three UK households has a Clubcard, and Tesco is recognized within the industry as the most successful exponent of loyalty marketing.

Tesco, recognizing the competitive advantage they acquired through their partnership with Dunnhumby, strengthened and protected it over the years. In 2001 they bought a 53% stake in Dunnhumby, and increased this holding to 84% in 2006. By 2010, Clive Humby and his wife Edwina Dunn had sold their entire stake for a total value of approximately £93million, and in October 2010 they resigned from the company, remaining non-executive directors till early 2013.


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