Former boss Sir Terry Leahy denies blame for Tesco downfall

Blames a “failure of leadership” from his successor

Sir Terry Leahy, former CEO of Tesco, has spoken out against his successor, saying a “failure of leadership” was to blame for the supermarket’s problems.

When Leahy stood down in 2011 after 14 years as Tesco boss, he was replaced by Philip Clarke who had worked his way up from the shop floor. However, Clarke lasted only three years as CEO before stepping down amid profit warnings, to be replaced by Unilever’s Dave Lewis.

Clarke has widely been considered a “fall guy” who inherited a business that had rocky foundations and was waiting to crumble – in fact, he famously said Leahy was running the business “too hot” with controversial accounting practices.

However, it seems Leahy disagrees. He told BBC Panorama: “People tried very hard to do the right thing; it clearly has not worked. In the end, that’s a failure of leadership, not a failure of the business, not a failure of the people who work hard every day in the business.

“When you’re the CEO, if it goes well, you get credit, if it doesn’t go well, you must take responsibility and Phil Clarke has taken that responsibility and paid the price with his job.”

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