Tesco, the world’s third-biggest retailer, is to jettison the head of its UK business a year after he was promoted to the role, raising questions over strategy in its largest market two months after a shock profit warning.
Tesco said group CEO Philip Clarke would take over the UK CEO role in addition to his existing duties from Richard Brasher, a Tesco veteran of 26 years, who has stepped down from the PLC board with immediate effect and will leave the firm in July.
Clarke told Reuters that Brasher recognised “you can’t have two captains in a team.” Brasher was appointed to head the UK business in March 2011 when Clarke succeeded long-standing group CEO Terry Leahy.
His departure follows Clarke’s decision to have hands on involvement in the UK business, whose market share last month fell to levels not seen since 2005, according to industry data. Some analysts expressed concern that Clarke may be taking on too much.
“It is not a good sign when the CEO of a huge global group like Tesco tries to micro-manage the UK 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?”
Clarke said Brasher’s exit “categorically does not signal another warning.” “There is no warning, if we felt that was necessary we’d be saying so and we don’t think it’s necessary.”
Clarke also insisted he had not rowed with Brasher, who was responsible for the “Big Price Drop” campaign launched last September that did not deliver the Christmas Tesco wanted and has so far failed to stem market share losses to rivals Asda, Sainsbury and Morrisons.