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New Tesco boss Lewis faces same old problems

Incoming Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis must tackle the same legacy problems as his predecessor failed to do, including product, pricing and increased competition, industry insiders have warned.

Lewis, who heads up Unilever’s personal care business having joined the consumer goods group fresh out of university in 1987, will join on October 1. Philip Clarke was ousted this week (Monday 21) following a profit warning, which said the first-half performance to the end of August will come in “somewhat below expectations”.

Tesco is due to publish these figures the day Lewis joins. Clarke will leave the same day, but will remain available to support Tesco until January.

Many in the industry said legacy issues – such as product and pricing, intensifying competition and the hangover from its loss-making US business Fresh & Wild – could still challenge the new boss if not quickly addressed.

A supplier for Tesco clothing arm F&F said Lewis’s lack of retail experience was not an issue, but added: “What concerns me is that he’ll be too removed to make things happen. The biggest challenge is to make Tesco less process-driven.”

“When Clarke took over there were all kinds of legacy problems,” agreed Phil Dorrell, director of consultancy Retail Remedy. “Those are still there; it’s time to see whether Lewis can solve them.”

HSBC analyst Dave McCarthy added: “The choice of Dave Lewis may appear surprising. He has had a successful career and is highly respected, but he is not a retailer.”

F&F chief executive Jason Tarry said it was “business as usual”.

Readers' comments (2)

  • This is very similar to the other monster M & S . If I can make one simple statement to both companies GO AND ASK
    THE STAFF . They work every day with the consumers and surely their experience is worth a fortune. It costs the companies Zero but the overview can be amazing and in some cases frightening !
    How about working on the shop floor undercover before he starts.

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  • Bosses don't like going on the shop floor and asking the staff what should be done because it makes them look incompetent, which can often be the case.

    Sales Staff often know what the problems are in any retail business and sadly their views are rarely taken seriously - that is if they're aloud to have an opinion in the first place.

    That's why in many businesses it is rare that good people get promoted. Most retailers want yes men who don't rock the boat, therefore when they reach the top they have no idea of what they're doing.

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