Tesco has announced a changing of the guard after long-serving chief executive Dave Lewis unexpectedly tendered his resignation, clearing the way for his appointed successor Ken Murphy to step up to the plate.
The surprise decision will see Lewis exit the business in the summer of 2020, closing an era in which Tesco has restructured its operations amid ferocious competition from discounters .
In a statement chairman John Allan confirmed: “Dave has done an outstanding job in rebuilding Tesco since 2014 and he continues to have unwavering support from the Board. Some time ago, however, he indicated to me that he was considering the best time to hand over to a successor. His openness allowed me to begin a thorough and orderly process to identify a potential candidate to replace him.
"As a result, today, we have appointed Ken Murphy to succeed Dave as group CEO of Tesco next summer.”
Murphy was handpicked for the role for his brand experience, marketing nous and commercial acumen gleaned from senior roles at the likes of Boots and Alliance Unichem.
For Lewis, who has served in the role since 2014, this means it is mission accomplished and he can exit the business on a high note. leaving a firm foundation for Murphy to make his mark. Under Lewis’ leadership, Tesco sold off non-core assets from garden centres and its entire South Korean business to a movie streaming service and bought Booker, the country’s largest wholesaler.
Lewis said: “My decision to step down as group CEO is a personal one. I believe that the tenure of the CEO should be a finite one and that now is the right time to pass the baton.
“The Tesco brand is stronger and customer satisfaction is the highest it has been for many years.”
Lewis’ looming departure signals wider tectonic shifts in the upper echelons of UK retail with Sainsbury’s CEO John Rogers departing for WPP only yesterday.