Letters: Profit games at the supermarket

Letters: What sort of values do we have when profits of £3.7bn at Tesco send shock waves through the City?

The subject of your front-page story (Shake-up at Tesco after £5bn battering, 13 January) neatly sums up the core problem at the heart of underregulated capitalism. Tesco sees huge stock market value losses because they won't make as much money this year as they normally do. But they are still going to make billions as a healthy percentage of turnover.

When first established, the stock market was a place where you invested your capital in the hope of steady, predictable dividends on the back of reliable company profits that would see you gain more return on your investment than simply sticking it in the bank.

Then things changed as we humans sought out ever-increasing profits because we lost sight of steady, reliable dividends and instead became focused on increasing the value of our share portfolios. As with any system in life, exponentially increasing returns cannot carry on indefinitely.

The stock market today rails against this fact and we all suffer unnecessarily for it. Greed is ultimately what will be our undoing as a species.
Dave Goodwin
Sticklepath, Devon

• While food corporations like Tesco are busy playing profit games, in the real world food security is an increasing concern. "Just in time" deliveries may be essential for corporate profits, but they leave the UK with only a few days of food reserves. Couple that with supermarket business models totally dependent on plentiful cheap oil at a time when world demand for oil is set to exceed the supply and we could soon find ourselves in difficulties.

In my view government organisations from Whitehall ministries down to parish councils need to make food security top priority in their emergency plans. We should stop worrying about Tesco's profits and start worrying about our children's futures.
Richard Keeling
Chrishall, Essex

• I was in the UK over Christmas and New Year from Australia and shopped at Tesco's several times, it being the nearest (and only) supermarket in the vicinity of where my daughter lives (a high-density suburb of west London). I found in Tesco's that all of the clothing and apparel was cheap rubbish imported from China so even though I was in the market for a coat, hat, boots, etc to keep warm over the holiday, I wasn't prepared to purchase the poor-quality product that I found at Tesco's. My other problem was that I didn't get the point of a great big supermarket plonked in the middle of a car park, with no other services. What if I needed the Post Office? The doctor? A dentist? Or anything not available at Tesco's? After a week or so of this I gave up on Tesco's and took a longer bus ride to a larger shopping centre with more choices. I felt that the Tesco model seemed out of date and out of tune with what modern citizens want. Supermarkets in Australia also think that all we care about is "cheap" when in fact what we want is quality. Many of us are all too aware that "cheap" has a high cost in environmental degradation in the country of origin and the reduction of a manufacturing base in the home country.
J Grey
Lota, Queensland, Australia

• So Tesco has suffered its worst Christmas in decades and its profits will not rise by the expected 10%. The poor company will have to make do with a mere £3.7bn profits – and for this the stock market has wiped £5bn off its value.

What sort of values do we have when profits of £3.7bn send shock waves through the City? Why cannot investors be content with a steady reliable income – especially in these straitened times? I have no sympathy for Tesco, but even less for the City traders who distort the markets like this.
Michael Ellman

• Tesco's sales figures are worse than expected? Antony Worrall Thompson must have been busier than we thought!
Henk Slagter
Hazlemere, Buckinghamshire

• Tesco slogan update: "You don't shop, we drop."
Rod Logan

The GuardianTramp

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