British supermarket giant Tesco will have to wait until October before its new boss — Cork-born businessman Ken Murphy — can start after his former employer Walgreens Boots Alliance insisted he see out a non-compete agreement.
Tesco said in October last year that chief executive Dave Lewis was stepping down in the summer of 2020 after six years in the top job, and would be succeeded by Mr Murphy. No start date was given at the time.
But the company has now said Mr Murphy would not start as CEO until October 1 — a full year after his appointment was announced — after respecting his contractual commitments, including non-compete obligations, with his previous employer.
Tesco said Mr Lewis had agreed to extend his tenure until September 30 so as to facilitate “a smooth and seamless handover”.
At the time of the announcement of his appointment it had been expected that Mr Murphy — a former joint chief operating officer at Boots UK and Ireland before becoming chief of global brands for parent group Walgreens Boots Alliance — would take over the day-to-day running of Tesco this summer.
Mr Murphy’s appointment split UK analysts last year.
HSBC analyst Andrew Porteous said Mr Murphy was “a strong choice”, but that his key challenge will be to drive sales growth.
However, Bernstein analyst Bruno Monteyne, at the time, said: “Walgreens-Boots has material strategic challenges in the US and the UK.
What is it about Ken’s track record there that impressed the board?”