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Tesco’s U.K. CEO, Richard Brasher, is leaving the role he ascended to just a year ago. His decision comes at a time when the retailer when the retailer is struggling financially -- it issued its first profit warning during Brasher's tenure in the lead position.
The company said that group CEO Philip Clarke will take on the U.K. leadership role. Brasher will step down from the company’s board effective immediately and leave the company in July after transiting the U.K. business to Clarke. Tesco is the parent company to El Segundo, Calif.-based Fresh & Easy in the United States.
“I have decided to assume responsibility as the CEO of our U.K. business at this very important time,” Clarke said. “This greater focus will allow me to oversee the improvements that are so important for customers. I completely understand why Richard has decided to leave and want to thank him for the great contribution he has made over many years. The depth of management at Tesco and the strong leadership team across the group allow me to take a more active role in the U.K. [while] our other businesses continue to grow.”
Clarke later told Reuters that Brasher recognized “you can't have two captains in a team.” Clarke decided to take a more active role in the U.K. operations after its market share fell last month to levels not seen since 2005, according to industry data.
“Richard has been an architect of our successful format strategy, a true innovator with both Clubcard and the dunnhumby partnership,and over the last 10 years has led the transformation of our nonfood business and the creation of International Sourcing,” Clarke noted in a company statement. “He will leave behind a U.K. business which has very strong plans for improvement, and over the last two months, these plans are beginning to show progress, in line with our expectations. I am more determined than ever that these improvements in the U.K. will result in a better Tesco and an even better shopping trip for customers.”
Some analysts have raised concerns about Clarke’s taking on too much, according to Reuters. “It is not a good sign when the CEO of a huge global group like Tesco tries to micromanage the U.K. business,” said independent retail analyst Nick Bubb. “It is hard to see how this will end happily. Will Phil Clarke take over running Tesco Bank when that goes off plan?”
Others have questioned what really precipitated Brasher’s exit, though Clarke denied a fight was involved. He also said that Brasher’s decision to leave the company “categorically does not signal another warning,” the news outlet reported.