Philip Clarke takes the reins at Tesco

International director Philip Clarke is to take over as CEO of Tesco from long-serving chief Sir Terry Leahy.

Leahy is going to retire next year at 55, as much probably to create some room at the top as from any great desire to go. Tesco has recently lost a few key executives from its senior ranks to rivals as it looked as though Leahy would go on for ever.

So Clarke, who’s in charge of the group’s international operations outside the US plus IT, takes over with US boss Tim Mason, long the popular choice to succeed Leahy, becoming deputy group chief wxecutive as well as boss of Fresh & Easy and commercial director Richard Brasher becoming CEO for Britain and Ireland.

This sounds like rather a lot of chief executives but companies spray titles around like confetti these days and even the mighty Tesco is joining in.

The news may alarm agency The Red Brick Road which won the Tesco account when Sir Frank Lowe (knights and more knights) quit Lowe Worldwide and took the £40m business with him to his new agency.

Leahy and Lowe were old muckers but now they’ve both gone, Lowe stepped down from The Red Brick Road last year.

There’s been nothing wrong with the agency’s Tesco work although it hasn’t set the world on fire. But the news will fuel hopes in other London agencies, not least at WPP whose boss Sir Martin Sorrell (another one) has long coveted the account.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.