Ex-Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy "tried to ban his wife from Waitrose"

The former chief executive of Tesco has revealed how he tried to stop his wife shopping at rival supermarket chain Waitrose, even going as far as paying his children to tell him if they spotted her in the act.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs on Sunday, Sir Terry Leahy said that he would give his wife a “severe telling-off” if Waitrose products were found in the family’s fridge.

“I actually bribed my children to sort of inform on my wife Alison if she popped into Waitrose when she picked up the kids from school,” he added.

Sir Terry also waded into the debate over the survival of local shops in the face of bigger competitors, arguing that their decline as supermarkets took their place was “part of progress”.

The former Tesco chief expressed some qualified sympathy when asked how he felt about a family butcher being put out of business because he couldn’t compete with a “three-quid chicken” sold at the supermarket.

“Small benefits for thousands of families can be a big loss for the family of the butcher but you can never be causal about it. I felt very strongly inside that Tesco was doing the right thing… but I realised I wasn’t winning the argument for some people.”

Among the tracks picked by Sir Terry to accompany him to a desert island were:

  • The Beatles’ I Want To Hold Your Hand
  • Simon & Garfunkel’s Homeward Bound
  • Depeche Mode’s Just Can’t Get Enough
  • Pachelbel’s Canon in D

Sir Terry said he would take the Complete Works of Charles Dickens and picked tea as his luxury item.


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