Tesco’s boss Dave Lewis quits the supermarket as three top bosses announce plans to step down

DAVE Lewis, the boss of Tesco, is leaving the supermarket giant after five years, declaring its turnaround complete.

He is one of three top bosses on the move in the business world. City veteran Martin Gilbert is to leave Standard Life Aberdeen after nearly four decades with the business, while Metro Bank founder Vernon Hill is relinquishing all roles at the troubled lender.

Tesco boss Dave Lewis
AFP or licensors

Mr Lewis – dubbed Drastic Dave for his radical shake up of the UK’s largest grocer – said he was leaving the “all consuming” role to spend more time with his family and ponder his next move.

He will not leave until next year, when he will be replaced by Boots lifer Ken Murphy.

Mr Lewis, who has held the role since September 2014, 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.

“Our turnaround is complete, we have delivered all the metrics we set for ourselves.”

His surprise decision to step down came as the supermarket revealed flat sales in the six months to August 24 at £28.3 billion, with pre-tax profits up 6.7 per cent at £494 million.

UK and Ireland sales ticked up up 0.1 per cent on a comparable basis.

Its ‘Exclusively at Tesco’ brands are gaining volume share from its rivals including the discounters.

Tesco is speeding up its Express store openings, with 150 UK openings in the next three years, and four new superstores.

The grocer is also trialling cashless stores where customers who use the app can enter a store, pick-up products and leave, with payment processed automatically.

In the financial world, troubled lender Metro Bank is cutting ties with controversial founder Vernon Hill.

The group said in July that Mr Hill would step down as chairman of the business but stay on as president and a non-executive director.

But yesterday it was announced that he leaving the business on December 31.

Metro Bank shares have shed more than 80 per cent of their value since the start of 2019.  In January, it revealed a £900 million accounting blunder.

Metro banking on a change

Vernon Hill's departure comes after months of pressure from investors and regulators who expressed unease about his decision to remain on the company board despite resigning as chairman.

The colourful American entrepreneur co-founded the bank more than eight years ago, focusing on building customer-friendly branches.

Mr Hill said in an interview earlier this year that he would “probably die” at the lender.

However, the business has faced mounting corporate governance concerns.

And late last month, the lender had to pull a bond sale after a lack of investor interest.

Sir Michael Snyder, senior independent director at Metro Bank, said: “The board shares Vernon’s view that Metro Bank has now reached a point where an independent chairperson is appropriate to oversee the next stage of our journey.”

It should be commended for trying to turn over a new leaf. As investor Royal London says: “We hope this change in leadership will help the Board draw a line under the governance issues at Metro Bank and focus on restoring shareholder trust and improving financial performance.”

Meanwhile financial veteran Gilbert – vice chairman of the group and chairman of Aberdeen’s investment arm – said he will not be standing for re-election at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in May next year – 14 months after he stood down as the firm’s chief executive.

He said: “It has been an incredible journey, almost unimaginable from the earliest days when we were just three people in one office in Aberdeen with £50 million under management to today’s total in excess of £500 billion.”

In other business news:

#PAYTOO: A group of successful businesswomen have launched a MeToo style campaign to close the gender pay gap. The female high fliers behind the #MeTooPay initiative include former telecoms CEO Dido Harding, GSK boss Emma Walmsley and Dame Minouche Shafik, potentially the Bank of England’s next Governor. Ex Royal Mail head Moya Greene is spearheading the push.

HAVING A FLUTTER: Paddy Power and Betfair owner Flutter Entertainment has agreed a merger with Canadian rival The Stars Group. The deal will create the world’s largest online betting firm with combined annual revenues of £3.8 billion.

MINDGOOGLING: A massive UK class action against Google for tracking data from iphones came a step closer yesterday as campaigners won a legal argument in the Court of Appeal. A trial looms next year.

RED ALERT: The decline in the UK construction sector worsened in September, according to a leading index. The closely-followed PMI data came in at 43.3 for the month. This compared with a 45.0 recorded in August, making it the second-sharpest decline since April 2009. A reading under 50 indicates contraction.

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