Unilever vet Lewis named CEO at Tesco

Imagine a lifelong Procter & Gamble employee suddenly named CEO of Walmart and that is essentially what happened at leading global retail Tesco where the company has named long time Unilever executive Dave Lewis as its next CEO.

Lewis spent the past 28 years with London-based Unilever, including his current role as global president of personal care, and on October 1 he will become Tesco’s CEO when current CEO Philip Clarke steps down. Clarke is a long time Tesco executive who has held numerous senior leadership roles and became CEO in March 2011. His decision to step down comes as Tesco continues to experience weak sales and profits and warned that its performance during the first half of the year would be below estimates provided less than two months ago.

“Having taken the business through the huge challenges of the last few years, I think this is the right moment to hand over responsibility and I am delighted that Dave Lewis has agreed to join us,” Clarke said in a statement.” Dave has worked with Tesco directly or indirectly over many years and is well-known within the business. I will do everything in my power to support him in taking the company forward through the next stage of its journey."

Tesco chairman Sir Richard Broadbent said Lewis brings to the company a wealth of international consumer experience and expertise in change management, business strategy, brand management and customer development.

“The board believes that with Dave’s leadership Tesco will sustain and improve its leading position in the retail market,” Broadbent said. He also noted that Clarke had done a huge amount to set a clear direction and re-position Tesco to meet rapid changes taking place in the retail market. “He has achieved a great deal across all areas of the business in the face of considerable pressures. The board are deeply grateful to Philip for his contribution to Tesco, over the last four decades, as well as more recently as chief executive. His has been an outstanding achievement.”

Tesco is a highly regarded retailer whose global footprint includes 7,305 stores, including 342, franchise locations, with annual sales of roughly $106 billion. The big challenge for the company is its heavy reliance on its home market with roughly half of its store located in the U.K. accounting for about 68% of the company’s total revenue in the fiscal year ended February 22, 2014. The company also operates stores in Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, India, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Turkey and Ireland.

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