Tesco’s UK chief Richard Brasher set to step down

TESCO’S chief executive of UK operations Richard Brasher is set to step down just one year after taking the position.

Group chief executive Philip Clarke will assume responsibility for Tesco’s home operations.

Richard Brasher joined Tesco in 1986 and was appointed to its board eight years ago today, on 15 March 2004.

He took the helm of the supermarket giant’s UK operations in March last year and was the force behind Tesco’s ‘Big Price Drop’ campaign, launched last autumn, which led to the retailer’s worst festive trading period in decades.

In January Tesco released its first profit warning in 20 years, admitting that underlying profit in 2012 would be £450m lower than expected.

The announcement sent its shares plummeting 17 per cent, cutting its market cap by £5bn in one day.

Tesco’s stock has failed to recover from its January plunge and remains at a three-year low.

Brasher is the third Tesco senior executive to leave the British company since former boss Sir Terry Leahy left the group this time last year.

David Potts, head of Tesco’s Asia business, announced his retirement in December just a few months after Andrew Higginson, the retailer’s executive director of banking and online operations, said in August he was leaving the company.

Tesco’s legal and corporate affairs director Lucy Neville-Rolfe plans to step down in January 2013.

Analysts last night questioned whether Philip Clarke would successfully juggle both Tesco’s group and UK businesses, although Leahy ran both.

Retail analyst Nick Bubb tweeted, “It’s not good when the CEO of a huge global group like Tesco tries to micro-manage the UK business... the cracks are showing,” adding: “Lucy Neville-Rolfe would be a more obvious replacement for Richard Brasher.”

Bubb also called for Tim Mason, Tesco’s deputy chief executive and the boss of its US arm Fresh and Easy, to “step into the Tesco UK breach,” tweeting: “Tim Mason, your country needs you.”

It is not clear whether Brasher will leave immediately, nor whether Clarke will fill the vacant role on a permanent or interim basis.

Tesco declined to comment.