Tesco counts cost of Leahy’s sur­prise exit

Daily Mail - - City & Finance -

A TO­TAL of £778m was wiped off the value of Tesco yes­ter­day af­ter chief ex­ec­u­tive Sir Terry Leahy an­nounced plans to step down early.

The dour Scouser, who has been widely cred­ited with trans­form­ing the busi­ness from a UK-fo­cused gro­cer into a gi­ant of the in­ter­na­tional stage, will re­tire in March 2011 af­ter 14 years at the helm.

The head of Tesco’s in­ter­na­tional di­vi­sion, Phil Clarke, 50, was anointed Leahy’s suc­ces­sor and there will now be a han­dover pe­riod last­ing nine months.

Tesco’s shares fell 9.70p to 397.4p as Leahy said: ‘There is no bet­ter job but it’s im­por­tant as a chief ex­ec­u­tive to know when to go and that’s when it’s your choice and from a po­si­tion of strength.’

He said that when he took on the job, he had a plan: ‘To be­come num­ber one in the UK and then to seek long-term growth op­por­tu­ni­ties in ser­vices, non-food and in­ter­na­tional.

‘But most im­por­tant of all I wanted to de­velop a pur­pose for the busi­ness and en­cour­age young peo­ple to come for­ward as fu­ture lead­ers. I feel my work is largely com­plete.’

Leahy, 54, said he plans to spend time on work­ing on his pri­vate in­vest­ments and has no plans to join other com­pany boards or en­ter pol­i­tics.

Chair­man David Reid said: ‘The de­par­ture of a leader of the cal­i­bre of Terry will of course be a loss. But he has steered it through the re­ces­sion.’

The ap­point­ment of Clarke, de­scribed as a real ‘peo­ple per­son,’ marks the im­por­tance of the over­seas busi­nesses to Tesco’s fu­ture growth.

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