Heads roll at top of UK supermarkets
Written by Peter Walker
Heads are rolling at the top of the UK’s supermarket chains, with Tesco’s chief executive announcing his resignation, following top bosses at Waitrose and Sainsbury’s Argos out the door.
Tesco’s latest financial results revealed that Dave Lewis is to leave the business after five years, to be succeeded by Walgreens Boots Alliance chief commercial officer Ken Murphy.
Chairman John Allan stated: “It is with regret that I have accepted the resignation of Dave Lewis as group chief executive 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,” he continued. “Some time ago, however, he indicated to me that he was considering the best time to hand over to a successor.”
Meanwhile, Waitrose managing director Rob Collins announced his resignation yesterday as parent company John Lewis Partnership unveiled a head office restructure and consolidation plan.
Collins will leave in January after a 26-year career with company, following the John Lewis Partnership’s senior management restructure to reduce duplication. The department store and grocery chains currently have separate operating boards in three different head offices.
The restructuring aims to save £100 million, through the loss of about 75 of its current 225 senior head office roles.
Outgoing chairman Charlie Mayfield credited Collins as one of “central architects” of the partnership’s restructuring plans, adding it was a “testament to his character” that he decided to resign given there was no suitable new position for him.
Some of the new executive director appointments have already been confirmed - with current John Lewis managing director Paula Nickolds getting the new role of brand executive director - while further appointments are expected to be announced over the coming months.
Finally, the chief executive of Sainsbury’s-owned Argos, John Rogers, is stepping down to become WPP’s chief financial officer.
He will leave the post on 31 October, with Argos’ retail and logistics teams reporting to retail and operations director Simon Roberts, while Argos’ commercial team will report to commercial director Paul Mills-Hicks.
Back to Tesco’s interim results, and the supermarket chain reported pre-tax profit up by 6.7 per cent to £494 million over the six months to 24 August.
Lewis commented: “Despite challenging external conditions we have delivered a very good start to the year – I’m very pleased to say that we have now delivered every element of the turnaround plan and from this position of strength, the transformation of our business continues at pace.”
The statement promised an increased rate of Express store expansion in the UK, opening 150 stores over the next three years, along with four new superstores in the UK and Ireland. Three more Jack’s: discount store are set to open by February 2020.
It will also double online capacity in the UK, opening three urban fulfilment centres by next summer, with the first due in West Bromwich by March 2020, as part of plan to open more than 25 over the next three years.
Tesco committed to innovation in loyalty with the introduction of Clubcard Plus in the UK before the end of 2019. Tesco now counts 1.54 million Clubcard app users, up 77 per cent year-on-year.
The supermarket has also made an equity investment in Trigo, with its frictionless shopping technology and ‘Scan, Pay, Go’ app now available to over 5,000 staff.