Tesco changes tack with outsider Dave Lewis

Retailer will be hoping Unilever executive replicates success enjoyed by Sainsbury’s

The appointment of Unilever's Dave Lewis represents a break from Tesco's normal route of appointing the new boss from within its own ranks.

Philip Clarke, like Sir Terry Leahy and Lord MacLaurin before him, took on the top job after a long spell in other senior roles at the retailer.

Tesco will be hoping Mr Lewis replicates the decade of success enjoyed by rival Sainsbury's with the tenure of Justin King, who recently stepped down.

Both men forged their reputations through the championing of some of Britain’s best known brands, with Mr King having worked at Pepsi-Cola and Mars.


Dave Lewis has spent his career at one company, having joined Lever Brothers in 1987. His current role as president of Unilever’s personal care division involves oversight of brands such as Lynx, Dove, Sure and Pond’s.

The early part of his management career at Unilever was spent in South America and Indonesia before he became the managing director of the UK home and personal care business. He was appointed Unilever’s chairman for UK and Ireland in 2007 before taking on his current role in 2011.

He is said to have been responsible for a number of business turnarounds during his career, in a variety of roles at the firm.

Philip Clarke rose through the ranks at Tesco after starting his career stacking shelves at a store in his home city of Liverpool in 1974.

His part-time role while studying at school led to a management training scheme on leaving university as Mr Clarke began a journey that would see him take over from Sir Terry Leahy as chief executive in March 2011.

Mr Clarke joined the board in 1998, where he headed Tesco’s supply chain operation before assuming responsibility for IT a year later.

In 2004 he took charge of international operations in addition to his IT role. It meant he was in charge of almost 2,000 stores and nearly two-thirds of group space, including China, India and Turkey.

The Liverpool FC fan is also a non-executive director at Premier Inn owner Whitbread.