I really wouldn’t want to be chief executive of Tesco, I wrote in January, because the ‘too big, too dull, too dominant’ supermarket giant, besieged by discounters, has become ‘a business-school case study of a brand that has lost all positive emotional connection to its customers’; the incumbent Philip Clarke, a Tesco lifer with scant hope of measuring up to his predecessor Sir Terry Leahy, had ‘everything to lose’.
Well, now he’s lost it — to be replaced by Dave Lewis, a Unilever executive who knows how to turn dull products into sexy brands, Dove soap and Lynx deodorant being two of his triumphs.
If Clarke’s departure, after only three years in post, looked as inevitable as that of David Moyes from Manchester United — or what’s to come for England cricket captain Alastair Cook — the more significant story from Tesco this week was actually the other one, about its plan to develop 4,000 homes on some of the 300 sites in its land bank.
Sainsbury’s has similar schemes in hand, we’re told. More houses and no new superstores are just what Britain needs, so there’s another bit of good news.
This is an extract from Martin Vander Weyer’s Any Other Business column in this week’s magazine. Click here to read for free with a trial of The Spectator app for iPad and iPhone. You can also subscribe with a free trial on the Kindle Fire.