Tesco PLC chief executive officer Terry Leahy plans to retire early next year, and the British supermarket retailer has named Philip Clarke as his successor. 

Terry Leahy, Tesco, Philip Clarke, Tesco CEO, Tesco PLC chief executive officer, succession plan, supermarket, David Reid, Tim Mason, retirement, David Potts, Richard Brasher, Gordon Fryett

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Tesco CEO Leahy to retire, Clarke named successor

June 8th, 2010
Terry Leahy

LONDON – Tesco PLC chief executive officer Terry Leahy plans to retire early next year, and the British supermarket retailer has named Philip Clarke as his successor. 

The company said Tuesday that Leahy, 55, is slated to step down in March 2011, with Clarke then taking the CEO reins. Leahy has served as chief executive for 14 years. According to Tesco, the announcement reflects the implementation of its long-term succession plan.

"When I became CEO, I had a plan to build Tesco around its customers, to make it No. 1 in the U.K. and to find new long term growth in nonfood, in services and in international expansion," Leahy said in a statement. "I wanted to develop a purpose and values that could sustain Tesco through its challenges and encourage and grow future leaders. It has taken 14 years, but that strategy has become a firm reality now and so I feel my work is almost complete."

Commented Tesco chairman David Reid, "Terry has made an unrivalled contribution over a prolonged period. He is undoubtedly one of the leading businessmen of his generation. He has put in place a strategy which can secure the progress of Tesco for years to come."

Clarke, 50, currently heads Tesco's international operations in Asia and Europe as well as group IT. He has served on Tesco's board since 1998.

"I am honored and delighted to succeed Terry, who has taught me so much," Clarke stated. "I am very excited by the opportunity to lead such a fantastic team of executives, many of whom I’ve worked with for years. Together, we will build a global business which focuses on the customer and fully respects our people, our communities, our supply chain and our shareholders."

Clarke started at Tesco in 1974 as a part-time assistant while he was still in school and joined the management training scheme after studying economics at Liverpool University. He has broad experience at Tesco as a store manager, a buyer, a marketer and an international executive.

He joined the board 12 years ago with responsibility for the Supply Chain and added IT responsibility a year later. In January 2004, he took over responsibility for International Operations and retained IT. He is now responsible for almost 2,000 stores and nearly two-thirds of group space, according to Tesco. The company noted that he has been central to the new moves and operational improvements across Asia and Europe in recent years, including China, India and Turkey, building teams and developing talent in those markets.

"I am delighted Phil Clarke has accepted the role of CEO from March 2011," Leahy commented. "He will be supported by an outstanding team of senior executives, who together represent one of the strongest leadership teams in the world of retailing."

Tesco also announced a series of other executives changes due to take effect in March 2011.

Tim Mason, president and CEO of Tesco's Fresh & Easy business in the United States, is adding group responsibility for branding, the company's values and climate change, and he will become deputy CEO of Tesco PLC. He will continue to be based in the United States.

David Potts has been named as the first CEO of Tesco's Asia business. He is currently retail and logistics director in the United Kingdom and has responsibility for the Republic of Ireland. Also, Richard Brasher, currently commercial director, will assume the newly created role of CEO of the U.K. business and take responsibility for the Republic of Ireland.

In addition, Tesco said Gordon Fryett will head property across the group, and the company will create a new group commercial role.