Sir Terry Leahy
Sir Terry Leahy is the former Chief Executive of Tesco and is credited with transforming the supermarket industry in Britain and growing Tesco into one of the largest supermarket chains in the country. As the Chief Executive of Tesco for 13 years experts credit Leahy’s success to his hands-on style and marketing prowess while Leahy places focus on experience and low-key leadership. Leahy is his own best example of an inspirational visionary who could see the future of retail and worked towards achieving high set goals. His passion for retail was first stirred while stacking shelves during school holidays as a young adult.
From humble beginnings, growing up in south-east Liverpool, Leahy went on to graduate from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology in 1977 where he gained his BSc (Hons) in management sciences.
After moving to London Leahy applied to become a product manager for Turkey Foil but was turned down. He applied for a job at Tesco, but lost out to another candidate. After that candidate was quickly reassigned upwards, Leahy returned to Tesco in 1979 as a Marketing Executive and was promoted to Marketing Manager in 1981. From 1984 to 1986 he held the position of Marketing Director for Tesco Stores Ltd. In 1986, he was appointed Commercial Director of Fresh Foods, and in 1992 was appointed to the Board of Tesco PLC as Marketing Director. In February 1995 Leahy was appointed Deputy Managing Director, followed by Chief Executive in March 1997. During his rise to the top, Leahy completely changed Tesco’s strategy from one of “catch up” to leading through market knowledge. This contributed to his success in devising and implementing the Tesco Clubcard loyalty program, which transformed the retailer enabling it to surpass its previous competitors eventually becoming the world’s third largest retailer.
According to Sir Terry Leahy “A good company should make sure employees really can work their way up through the organisation.”
Leahy received a Knighthood for services to food retailing in the 2002 New Year Honours.
On 7 June 2012 he published his first book, “Management in Ten Words,” in which he shares ten essential management lessons that emerged from his intensive turnaround of the company. The book helps managers across the world understand what makes a company great and inspire them to move theirs forward.
Leahy is an active contributor to social upliftment and serves as a Director on the Liverpool Vision Regeneration Board, which is responsible for the physical and economic regeneration of Liverpool with the view to making it a leading business and cultural centre in the United Kingdom and Europe. In 2008 Liverpool was chosen as the joint European Capital of Culture.
Leahy also serves as a Senior Advisor to the private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
In March 2008, Leahy was nominated by Retail Week as Retail Leader of the Year. From 2005 to 2010, he was voted as Britain’s Most Admired Leader by Management Today and in 2004 was named European Businessman of the year by FORTUNE magazine. In 2010, he received the Daily Telegraph’s Award for a Decade of Excellence in Business, a Lifetime Achievement award from Director magazine and was voted Business Person of the Year by the Sunday Times. In March 2011, Leahy received two awards from Retail Week: the Lifetime Achievement Award and Retail Leader of the Year.