When the chief executive has to defend his company in public it is usually to calm angry shareholders about poor results or in a takeover battle. Yesterday Sir Terry Leahy found himself on BBC radio defending Tesco’s success!
In his normal tough and blunt style he was up for the task strongly making the point that Tesco had to “strike a balance” between helping families to shop on a tight budget and providing a return to shareholders by maximising sales and profits.
Sir Terry is the ultimate ‘one company’ man. He joined Tesco straight after graduating from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) in 1979. He started as a marketing executive, was appointed to Tesco’s board of directors in 1992, and by the time he was 40 he had worked his way up to become chief executive in 1997.
On his watch the now 48-year-old supermarket boss, Tesco is the dominant force in the UK with at least one in every £8 spent with a retailer now ends up in Sir Terry’s coffers.
By acquisition he has built up the Tesco Express chain of convenience stores and he has created the most profitable online shopping business.
Internationally, Tesco now has a presence in 11 markets in Ireland, Eastern Europe and Asia and recently announced plans to open stores in the United States.
Sir Terry was knighted in 2002, soon after having received the honour of the Freedom of the City of Liverpool which entitles him, amongst other things, to herd his sheep across the city without being arrested.
Quite an honour for a local boy who, according to Liverpool Post “grew up in a pre-fab maisonette on Endbrook road in the Lee Park council estate in Belle Vale”.
Thanks for reading Big Business