Former chief under fire at Tesco AGM

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A FORMER chairman of Tesco has publicly criticised ex-chief executive Terry Leahy’s legacy.

At Tesco’s AGM yesterday, Ian MacLaurin asked for Sir Terry’s successor, Philip Clarke, to be given more time to turn around the UK’s largest grocer.

“When you judge the performance of a chief executive, you not only judge the performance of the day-to-day, but also his legacy,” said Lord MacLaurin.

“I think we’re all very sad in this hall to see the legacy Terry Leahy left. It is a very sad situation – your enormous writedowns, (and) the situation in America,” said Lord MacLaurin, who chaired Tesco from 1985 to 1997.

In April, the firm posted its first profit fall in two decades, wrote down the value of its global operations by £2.3bn and confirmed plans to exit its loss-making US business Fresh & Easy.

Lord MacLaurin said Tesco’s board and shareholders have to counter “an age of short-termism” by taking a long-term view and giving Mr Clarke, who took over from Sir Terry in March 2011, and his team time to fix things.

“This job is going to be probably two or three years,” he said.

Tesco avoided a rebellion from investors over executive pay at the AGM.

Some 95.2 per cent of shareholders who voted at the meeting backed the firm’s executive pay report, even though advisory group Pirc called on investors to vote against pay-offs to two departed executives.