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    Unilever Exec Takes Reins of Struggling Tesco

    Lewis to replace Clarke following poor sales performance

    By Kyle Shamorian, Stagnito Business Information

    Tesco CEO Philip Clarke will step down on Oct. 1, following the U.K. grocer's poor sales performance during the first half of this year.

    Dave Lewis, head of London-based Unilever's personal care business, will take the reins after the departure of Clarke, who has guided the grocer through a series of struggles since his appointment in 2011.

    Following the sale of Tesco's struggling Fresh & Easy banner to The Yucaipa Cos. in November 2013, as well as continued competition from discounters Aldi and Lidl, Tesco last month posted its worst sales decline in 20 years.

    The grocer noted its sales and trading profit would be "somewhat below expectation," which it attributed to challenging conditions, a weaker market, and increasing investments to improve the customer offer and build long-term loyalty.

    The appointment of Lewis, according to the company, is designed to bring a "new leader with fresh perspectives and a new profile."

    Tesco Chairman Sir Richard Broadbent noted that Lewis will bring a wealth of international consumer experience and expertise in change management, business strategy, brand management and customer development to his new role.

    Lewis brings 28 years' experience and leadership to Tesco, having spearheaded a number of business turnarounds with Unilever. 

    “A change in leadership may bring some much-needed fresh thinking to Tesco, but the structural shifts in the grocery sector cannot be reversed," Natalie Berg, global research director at Planet Retail, said in an e-mail. "Lewis will need to reposition Tesco to adapt to this new normal." 

    Clarke will also step down as board member in October, but will assume a support role during the transition period, which is expected to last through January 2015. 

    By Kyle Shamorian, Stagnito Business Information
    • About Kyle Shamorian In his digital editor role, Kyle Shamorian oversees all content on progressivegrocer.com, Progressive Grocer’s online extension that features real-time daily news, exclusive content, new products, blogs, and related multimedia products. In addition to writing and editing content on a wide range of grocery industry issues, Kyle helms the Brain Food department in PG’s print edition, which spotlights shopper behavior and consumer trends in the retail industry. Before joining Progressive Grocer’s editorial team in July 2012, Kyle, a 2003 graduate of Marquette University, previously managed digital platforms for a variety of industries.

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