Business Diary: February 23

Asda's back to basics and ready for war

ASDA has warned that 2010 will be an "extremely tough year" for customers and its drawing up plans to slash prices over the coming months.

The Leeds-based group has said it will ditch promotional offers and go back to its Every Day Low Pricing campaign instead.

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"In hindsight we should have been less promotional in 2009," admits Asda's chief executive Andy Bond.

"Asda will return with force to our Every Day Low Prices model in 2010.

"That's what our customers need this year."

With typical Asda flair, he then went on to accuse his rivals of playing games with their customers.

"In my view they are guilty of employing weapons of mass distraction when it comes to pricing," he added.

Iraq inquiry it might not be, but Asda's getting feisty.

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Prepare for all out supermarket wars over the coming months.

Marketing man's words of wisdom

Ever wondered how to get ahead in marketing?

Well, straight-talking Yorkshire businessman and marketeer Paul Rouse has decided to reveal some of the tricks of the trade.

Mr Rouse, who has headed the marketing functions at Allied Carpets and William Hill, has written My Marketing Miscellany.

The book, according to the blurb "blows the lid on many marketing myths and gives a warts-and-all insight into subjects ranging from venture capital to the internet".

Here, for example, are his views on planning and analysis:

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"I realised many years ago that some of the marketing development techniques taught by learned professors on business courses are designed more to maker the 'prof' look clever than as a genuine marketing tool. Anyone who doubts the value of planning need look no further than our current Government.

"Would you invade a country without first deciding what you would do with it afterward, or buy a bank without setting a remuneration policy? Still, we are just marketing people, what do we know?"

According to Mr Rouse, research is a much-maligned discipline – and rightly so.

"The number of time I turn on the news to hear quotes from some research project or other, knowing full well that it is absolute rubbish put out to get free publicity for the company or individual who

published it."

To find out more about the book, visit

Home straight

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IT may still be snowing but advertisers are turning our thoughts to spring after the first television advert for the 2010 John Smith's

Grand National aired last night.

The advert to promote the three-day meeting at Aintree racecourse in April was produced by creative agency hme, based in Leeds.

Nick Jackson, director of hme, said: "The brief was to raise awareness of the three days of the meeting and drive both individual and corporate bookings. As a racing fan it was a great privilege to work with this iconic brand."

Central park

What does Leeds really need to thrive over the next decade?

There was some learned debate yesterday at the Institute of Directors' (IOD) Young Directors' Forum at 3 Albion Place in Leeds, where the keynote speaker was Martin Dean, the deputy director of the Leeds Initiative. Diary went along and found that a number of people were saddened by the lack of a giant park in the heart of Leeds. Is there widespread support for this idea? Perhaps one of the mothballed development sites could fit the bill? Diary welcomes suggestions.

Minster date for Benn

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Following on from the lecture delivered by BBC's business editor Robert Peston in York, veteran Left-winger Tony Benn will take to the stage at York Minster to offer a very different take on the economic crisis.

Mr Benn, 84, who has lived through some of the most turbulent periods in British history, will deliver his Ebor Lecture on Wednesday, March 24.

Mr Peston attracted a capacity audience of 1,300 people so the pressure's on for Mr Benn...