Tesco begins ‘new chapter’ as Ken Murphy takes over as boss

New Tesco boss Ken Murphy has started his tenure leading the UK’s biggest supermarket.

Analysts have heralded his tenure as a “new chapter” for the company, as the leadership team which helped deliver its turnaround after the 2014 accounting scandal steps back.

Last year, the former Walgreens Boots Alliance executive was named as the successor to Dave Lewis and finally took the reins on Thursday.

It represents a major shake-up at Tesco, which has also seen Alan Stewart, its chief finance officer, and Charles Wilson, chief of its Booker wholesale arm, announce their departures.

Ken Murphy
Ken Murphy

Mr Murphy held calls with shop workers and executives at the business on Thursday morning, introducing himself and answering questions.

Shore Capital’s Clive Black said today “represents the arrival of a new chapter” at Tesco where his challenges are set to be external, rather than the internal “chaos” faced by Mr Lewis at the start of his leadership.

“The context in which Mr Murphy joins Tesco could not be more different to the chaos inherited by his very effective predecessor, Dave Lewis,” he said.

“Whereas Mr Lewis faced into a tsunami of internal challenge, he passes a leadership ‘ball’ on to his successor at the right pace, direction and height.”

He stressed that Mr Murphy will face his own challenges, such as UK-EU relations and potential tariffs, economic recession across its markets and the continuing impact of coronavirus.

Tesco has delivered strong sales in the face of the pandemic, posting 10.5% growth in the 12 weeks to September 6, according to Kantar.

The supermarket has also pushed down on prices to keep customers on board during the recession, which saw it launch its Aldi Price Match in March as well as a raft of Clubcard-only offers.

Major investors also have told the new chief executive officer that paying dividends to Covid-hit shareholders and selling off its banking arm should be at the top of his in-tray.

Fund manager Richard Buxton, of shareholder Jupiter, said Tesco should consider selling off Tesco Bank.

It comes a year after the supermarket sold its mortgage book to Lloyds for £3.8 billion, while it also recently sold its operations in Thailand and Malaysia for around £8 billion.