LONDON — Dave Lewis, president of Unilever’s personal care division, has been named chief executive officer of the troubled supermarket group Tesco. Lewis will replace Philip Clarke, who will step down in October, Tesco said.
Clarke will remain at Tesco until the end of January to support the management transition.
“Having guided Tesco through a substantial repositioning in challenging markets, Philip Clarke agreed with the board that this is the appropriate moment to hand over to a new leader with fresh perspectives and a new profile,” said Tesco’s chairman Sir Richard Broadbent.
He added that Lewis brings “a wealth of international consumer experience and expertise in change management, business strategy, brand management and customer development,” and is well known inside Tesco, after having worked at various roles within Unilever — one of the supermarket’s biggest suppliers — since he joined in 1987.
As reported, Tesco, once one of the fastest-growing supermarkets the U.K., has found itself caught between heavy discounters and more upmarket players such as Marks & Spencer and Waitrose. Tesco has also has been saddled with superstores at a time when smaller store formats have been gaining ground.
In April, Tesco revealed plans to take its F&F mass-market clothing line into the U.S. via a franchise partnership with Retail Group of America. Last year, the company exited American food retailing following a severe contraction in its 2012-13 profits. It had opened grocery stores under the Fresh & Easy banner in 2007 with much fanfare.
Broadbent went on to say that current trading conditions are more challenging than were anticipated at the time of the first-quarter interim management statement on June 4: “The overall market is weaker and, combined with the increasing investments we are making to improve the customer offer and to build long-term loyalty, this means that sales and trading profit in the first half of the year are somewhat below expectations.”
He added that the outlook for the full year will be influenced by the extent to which benefits from the investments Tesco is making begin to be seen; by conditions in the overall market, and by any steps that may be taken during the remainder of the year to improve the customer offer further.
Tesco confirmed that Lewis would receive a basic salary of 1.25 million pounds, or $2.14 million at current exchange, and standard benefits commensurate with his position. He will receive a sum of 525,000 pounds, or $896,921, in lieu of his current-year cash bonus from Unilever.
In addition, he will receive restricted Tesco plc awards of equivalent expected value in lieu of his deferred share awards from Unilever.
Lewis is a non-executive director of British Sky Broadcasting Group plc. His last three roles were chairman for Unilever in the U.K. and Ireland, president for the Americas, and his current role as global president, personal care.
Under Lewis’ watch, Unilever jumped a notch to become the world’s number-two beauty player in the 2013 WWD Beauty Inc Top 100 ranking.
He spoke earlier this year at WWD’s Beauty Summit about Unilever’s recent “holistic” approach to personal care, and the reasoning behind its move into more upmarket brands and products.
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