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Tesco announces surprise departure of CEO Dave Lewis


Supermarket turnaround ‘complete’

Tesco surprised the markets this morning by announcing that chief executive Dave Lewis will step down and will be succeeded by Ken Murphy, chief commercial officer at American retail giant Walgreens Boots Alliance.

Mr Lewis declared that he had completed the turnaround task and that it was time for him to pass the job on to his successor. Tesco’s shares fell more than 0.6% after the announcement, but by 10am were trading 2% higher.

The company also announced a 3.7% rise in half year pre-tax profit to £494m from £463m last year.

“My decision to step down as Group CEO is a personal one,” said Mr Lewis. ” I believe that the tenure of the CEO should be a finite one and that now is the right time to pass the baton. 

“Our turnaround is complete, we have delivered all the metrics we set for ourselves.  The leadership team is very strong, our strategy is clear and it is delivering.  The Tesco brand is stronger and customer satisfaction is the highest it has been for many years.  Colleagues are doing an extraordinary job and their expertise shows in every store and channel every day.

“With these firm foundations and a competitive, sustainable growth strategy in place, I have no doubt that Tesco will kick on again under new leadership next year.

“When that time comes, I will watch progress from outside with interest, deep affection and pride.  In the meantime, you can be sure that I will give the job everything I have until my very last day.”

John Allan, chairman, said: “It is with regret that I have accepted the resignation of Dave Lewis as Group CEO of Tesco, who has decided that he wants to leave the business in the summer of 2020.

“Dave has done an outstanding job in rebuilding Tesco since 2014 and he continues to have unwavering support from the board.  

“Some time ago, however, he indicated to me that he was considering the best time to hand over to a successor.  His openness allowed me to begin a thorough and orderly process to identify a potential candidate to replace him.  As a result, today, we have appointed Ken Murphy to succeed Dave as Group CEO of Tesco next summer.”

Mr Allan added: “Ken is unquestionably, a seasoned, growth-orientated business leader.  He has deep commercial, marketing and brand experience within retail and wholesale businesses, first with Alliance Unichem, and then with Boots. 

“He was Joint Chief Operating Officer at Boots UK & Ireland before rising to Executive Vice President, Chief Commercial Officer and President Global Brands at Walgreens Boots Alliance.  Ken has values which align with our own, strong strategic and operating acumen, and is proven at the very top of a large and respected multinational retail group. 

“I firmly believe we have the right person for the job.  Ken has contractual commitments to his previous employer, and therefore we will announce his precise start date in due course.”

Mr Allan said today’s results confirm that the Tesco turnaround has been delivered.  

“Under Dave’s leadership Tesco has transformed customer satisfaction and rebuilt the business.  We can now move forward with renewed confidence.  We have an exceptional leadership team, a very clear strategy, a re-invigorated brand and financial strength.” 

Mr Murphy’s basic salary will be £1,350,000 and his pension contribution will be 7.5% of basic salary, in line with the pension saving opportunity of the wider UK workforce.

He may forfeit payments from his previous employment for which he will be compensated if they arise on a like for like basis.  Mr Murphy will also be provided with appropriate relocation assistance.

Tesco declared an interim dividend of 2.65p, up 58.7%.

See also

Profits plunge at Tesco Bank

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