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Sir Terry Leahy blames Philip Clarke for Tesco’s decline

Former Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy has said that the supermarket chain allowed the trust of its millions of customers to be “eroded” and lost its reputation for low prices.

Leahy, who stepped down in 2011 after 14 years at the top of the grocer, told BBC Panorama last night that there was a “failure of leadership” under his successor Philip Clarke.

Tesco is the biggest, people expect it to have the best prices and know they can trust Tesco to deliver that and not have to shop around and check that they’re getting the best deal,” he said.

“I think that some of that trust has eroded, which has meant that people have shopped around.”

On the failure of Tesco Leahy said: “People tried very hard to do the right thing, it clearly has not worked. In the end that’s a failure of leadership, not a failure of the business, not a failure of the people who work hard every day in the business.

“When you’re the CEO, if it goes well, you get credit, if it doesn’t go well, you must take responsibility and Phil Clarke has taken that responsibility and paid the price with his job.”

Clarke stepped down from the helm of the retailer at the end of the July, handing over to Unilever’s head of personal care division Dave Lewis.

Leahy told the BBC programme that a lot of experienced leaders had been “allowed to go in too short a period of time”, which led to a shortage of experience.

“I think the culture did change under Phil Clarke and not for the better.”

Leahy took a stake in premium etailer Atterley Road last year, alongside a consortium which invested £2m.


Readers' comments (1)

  • While I agree with Leahy to a degree, peoples shopping habits have changed and it appears he is failing to really understand that. Plus you have to factor in the U.K's dislike for companies that get 'too big' and Tesco had certainly fell into that category.

    As troubled as Tesco is, comparatively speaking, they could still teach the clothing trade a thing or two.

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