According to Wikipedia, the modern usage of hubris denotes overconfident pride and arrogance.

An accusation of hubris often implies that suffering or punishment will follow, similar to the occasional pairing of hubris and nemesis in Greek mythology. It is also referred to as “pride that blinds”, as it often causes one accused of hubris to act in foolish ways that belie common sense.

In other words, the modern definition may be thought of as, “that pride that goes just before the fall”

I have been reflecting on this over recent weeks as I read about the continuing problems at Tesco and the announcements that they were shutting stores, cutting costs and putting any expansion on hold.

Not so very long ago, Tesco’s assault on retailing seemed unstoppable as it marched into more and more sectors from banking to record labels to telecoms and tablet computers and expanded into every town centre as well as developing more and more superstores.

And yet it is now shutting stores, retrenching and underperforming.

What went wrong?

Leaving aside the problems caused by the profit overstatement issue, Tesco blames it’s problems on the rise of discount stores like Aldi and Lidl, a change to on-line shopping and a more promiscuous consumer, less brand loyal and more interested in price than ambience.

Yet, this has not come out of the blue.

These issues have been around for several years and yet, with the exception of on-line retailing, Tesco has been remarkably slow to react, secure in its own business model, the strength of its brand and a belief in the loyalty of its customers.

Perhaps they should look at Marks and Spencer which enjoyed similar pre-eminence in retailing until the late 90’s when it suffered a similar reversal in its fortunes when customer loyalty was taken for granted.

Hubris indeed.

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