Tesco replaces boss Philip Clarke with Unilever CEO “drastic Dave” Lewis
Dave Lewis steps in as Tesco’s chief executive to revive sales after worst performance in decades
Tesco’s chief executive Philip Clarke, 54, will step down in October to make way for Dave Lewis, the head of Unilever’s personal care division. Mr Clarke has led the firm of UK’s biggest supermarket since 2011, but after another difficult year the retailing giant has said it would fail to hit profit forecasts.
In 2012 Mr Clarke unveiled a £1bn investment plan to try and revive sales in Tesco stores. He said: “We’ve had four years of customers feeling the pinch after the recession and Tesco didn’t put enough back into the stores, maybe took a little bit out”. Mr Clarke’s revive plans failed after a trading update last month showed a 3.7% fall in like-for-like sales, he then admitted these were the worst figures in four decades.
Mr Clarke has previously insisted he had no intentions of stepping down and was “not going anywhere”, but after Tesco’s admitted trading had been “more challenging” after lower sales for three quarters in a row, then the move seemed immediate.
Dave Lewis will be the retailer’s first chief executive from outside Tesco’s; he will bring plenty of international experience with him which will be valuable after companies US chain Fresh & Easy failure cost Tesco’s £1.2bn.
Mr Lewis has been nicknamed “Drastic Dave” in recent years after his restructuring of Unilever UK in 2007. As he became chairman of the UK side, Lewis slashed the company’s costs by 40% and cut over 300 jobs. His measures led to him being credited for the business’s turnaround.
Mr Lewis is also renowned for his core values and team building ability, at Unilever he invited inspirational speakers to talk with employees whilst also introducing a company rugby team. According to The Grocer, Lewis is responsible for creating “Team Unilever”.
Jonathan Jackson, head of equities at Killick & Co, said: “Lewis brings a wealth of international consumer experience, and expertise in brand management and customer development. This is essential as Tesco continues to struggle to reinvigorate its brand in a competitive market. Finally, the current CEO has lost the confidence of many in the market, and a change is likely to be seen as the best move for the company.”
The change of leadership seems to have been welcomed by investors as Tesco shares were up nearly 3% in morning trading to 293.20p.
Josh De Souza Crook