Will Sir Terry Leahy be able to work his magic on Morrisons?

LONG READ: Sir Terry Leahy's return to the UK's supermarket wars has sparked a triumphant media narrative. But will he have the same impact the second time around?

by Paul Simpson
Terry Leahy
Terry Leahy - Getty Images

Sir Terry Leahy is back! The return of the man who was Britain’s most admired CEO for much of his reign at Tesco has been trumpeted as morale-boosting proof that there are second acts in the lives of British business leaders.

The triumphant media narrative surrounding Leahy’s putative chairmanship of Morrisons glosses over a few details. For a start, the acquisition of the supermarket group by private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier and Rice (CD&R) is subject to a government investigation about its competitive impact on petrol sales.

Also, Leahy has not exactly languished in the wilderness since he left Tesco in 2010, after 13 years as CEO. Between 2012 and 2017, as a senior adviser to CD&R, he chaired British bargain retail group B&M. With CD&R having a controlling stake in B&M for a time, Leahy mentored CEO Simon Arora (who, with his brother Bobby, still owns 15% of the retailer), encouraging him to think bigger and bolder. During his chairmanship, B&M’s revenues expanded by more than 150%.

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