Ex-Tesco chair launches attack on former “arrogant” CEO

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Tesco CEO
// Ex-Tesco chairman Lord MacLaurin regrets decision of appointing former CEO Sir Terry Leahy
// He said Tesco was on brink of ruin thanks to Leahy’s “arrogant” & “extravagant” management style
// Leahy had been involved in the Big 4 leader’s establishment of its loyalty program Clubcard

Tesco’s former chairman Lord MacLaurin has criticised Tesco’s former chief executive Sir Terry Leahy as things “went haywire” towards the end of his reign.

Lord MacLaurin appointed Leahy in 1997 but has now said he regrets it as the Big 4 leader was on the brink of ruin at a certain point thanks to Leahy’s “arrogant” and “extravagant” management style.

“The whole thing went pear-shaped,” MacLaurin said to The Sunday Times.

“Terry did a very good job for the first four or five years, and I was very pleased about that, but I think towards the end things went haywire.

“The board sort of went to pieces a bit, somehow.”

MacLaurin added he felt “quite sorry” for Leahy’s successor, Philip Clarke, because “the rot was in Tesco long before Phil got landed with it”.

MacLaurin was hired as the first management trainee in 1959 by Tesco founder Sir Jack Cohen.

He also blamed Clarke’s problems on Leahy’s decision to enter the US market on the eve of the financial crisis in 2007 with Fresh & Easy, run by MacLaurin’s son-in-law, Tim Mason.

“It seemed to me that they were putting all this effort, all this money, into America and losing control here when Aldi and Netto and all of that lot were coming through,” MacLaurin said.

A source close to Leahy dismissed MacLaurin’s remarks as “complete nonsense” and told The Sunday Times he was “simply a guy trying to cause as much damage as he can so that he tries to claim he was the one who did everything at Tesco”.

Leahy also transformed Tesco’s finances during his 14 years as chief executive.

He had been involved in the Big 4 leader’s establishment of its loyalty program Clubcard, and the slogan “Every little helps”.

Under his leadership, sales surged from £15 billion to £68 billion, while profits went from £750 million to £3.8 billion.

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