Sir Terry Leahy is to retire from Tesco after 14 years as chief executive in March when he will be replaced by international director Philip Clarke.
Tesco chairman David Reid said: “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.”
Leahy said: “When I became chief executive I had a plan to build Tesco around its customers, to make it number one in the UK and to find new long term growth in non-food, in services and in international expansion. 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.
“I am delighted Phil Clarke has accepted the role of chief executive from March 2011. I have worked with Phil at Tesco for many years and I am confident he has all the necessary talent, energy and experience to take the group forward. 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.
“There is no better job than leading Tesco and after retirement I will concentrate mainly on private investment. I will, of course, keep a large shareholding in Tesco and remain its biggest supporter.”
Clarke has worked at Tesco throughout his career, spending many years in retail and commercial. He joined the board in 1998 and has responsibility for the group’s international operations in Asia and Europe as well as group IT.
Clarke said: “I am honoured and delighted to succeed Terry who has taught me so much. 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.”
Tim Mason, chief executive of Tesco’s US grocery chain Fresh & Easy, will be given additional responsibility for branding, values and climate change and will become deputy chief executive of Tesco. He will continue to be based in the US.
Commerical director Richard Brasher will assume the newly-created role of chief executive of the UK business and take responsibility for the republic of Ireland.
Andrew Higginson will continue as chief executive retail services including Tesco’s internet business.
Laurie McIlwee will remain finance director and Lucy Neville-Rolfe remains corporate and legal affairs director.