UK boss Richard Brasher out as CEO Philip Clarke takes the domestic reins at Tesco

The strife at Tesco is no showing no immediate signs of ending with the news that Richard Brasher (pictured), UK CEO of Britain’s biggest retailer, is on his bike, to be replaced by PLC CEO Philip Clarke.

Brasher stepped up to the top UK job when Sir Terry Leahy stepped down as PLC CEO just over a year ago (Leahy had juggled the two roles). It’s not clear whether Brasher’s appointment was Leahy’s idea or Clarke’s but Clarke is clearly in control now. “You can’t have two captains in a team,” he told news agency Reuters this morning. It always seemed odd to call the UK boss CEO. What’s wrong with managing director?

Tesco issued its first profit warning in decades this January following the failure of its ‘Big Price Drop’ campaign. It is losing share to Asda and discounters Aldi and Lidl at one end while John Lewis-owned Waitrose and Sainsbury’s are nibbling away at the top.

The UK stores have a number of pressing issues, the most obvious being not enough staff. Brasher himself took to the airwaves a couple of weeks ago to announce that the company was to hire 20,000 more staff.

New captain Clarke had better get cracking. A brief tour through Crouch End in North London yesterday revealed that the Tesco Express queue was coming out of the door, as was that in Waitrose. But Tesco’s was because there was only one clearly stressed person on the tills despite manager types wandering around not doing much.

The Waitrose queue was because it was busy (and its self-service tills don’t work very well, but that’s another story).

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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.