Wednesday 16 October 2019

Irishman to succeed Lewis in top Tesco job

Tesco CEO Dave Lewis
Tesco CEO Dave Lewis

Tesco CEO Dave Lewis is stepping down next summer and will be succeeded by a surprise choice, Walgreens Boots Alliance's Ken Murphy.

Mr Murphy, a Cork native, graduated from UCC and trained as an accountant before moving to the UK.

Mr Lewis, 54, will leave the UK's largest retailer after a turnaround that began when he joined Tesco in 2014, in the wake of an accounting scandal.

Since then, he has leveraged the company's position as UK grocery market leader to boost profits, despite consumer jitters over Brexit, the shift to online shopping, and competition from discounters Lidl and Aldi.

While there had been speculation that Mr Lewis was ready to move on, the 52-year-old Mr Murphy is a dark-horse choice to succeed him.

The spotlight previously was on internal candidates such as Charles Wilson, former chief of wholesaler Booker, which Tesco acquired last year. But he stepped down from his role running the retailer's UK arm after being diagnosed with cancer.

Tesco shares rose 1.1pc in London yesterday, after the company reported first-half operating profits that beat analysts' estimates.

While Mr Lewis's turnaround is complete, "the bigger question is why Tesco overlooked an array of internal candidates for the new CEO position, and has gone outside and appointed Ken Murphy from Boots", said Nick Bubb, an independent retail analyst.

Mr Murphy worked at Boots UK and Ireland, before rising to chief commercial officer and president of global brands at Walgreens Boots, the transatlantic drug store operator formed through a merger.


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