'You know more about my customers after three months than I know after 30 years,' he said.
Since then it has been marketing heresy to question Clubcard.
Until, that is, the recent profit warning; now the arguments querying Clubcard's future are convincing. A release from behavioural targeting company Criteo underscores Clubcard's naysayers, revealing that Waitrose is to use Criteo's technology to serve targeted offers to shoppers on sites such as Facebook.
Back in its heyday Clubcard appeared just as pioneering. 'Customer insight', the buzz phrase of choice for Clubcard's founders, quickly became part of brands' lingua franca.
Behavioural targeting may be a blunt tool, but the discipline still makes Clubcard's rewards model look dated and reactive.
You can bet that somewhere within Tesco's Cheshunt headquarters, the retailer's best brains are plotting its reinvention. Or its demise.
'Great' chance to revisit government policy
Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt admits VisitBritain's biggest push to date flies in the face of the government's decision to cut marketing spend (page 12). If 'Great' is a success, what chance this short-sighted strategy will be rethought?