terry leahy, tesco boss, times, businessperson of the yearThe Sunday Times has named Terry Leahy, the outgoing Tesco boss, as businessperson of the year. This will not be the last honour Sir Terry will pick up.

In its interview it highlights:

  1. He understands why his company is successful. When it stopped trying to overtake Sainsbury’s and focused on the shopper, it then overtook Sainsbury’s to become the UK’s number one retailer.
  2. He grew up loving shopping: “I went shopping with my mother a lot as a child. She had four boys and I was the most amenable to shopping. I enjoyed it.”
  3. He understood the opportunity. “There were no supermarkets. These post-war council estates were surrounded by a few local shops. They were convenient but they were very expensive. A lot of our disposable income went on food and it was a constant worry.”

He also talks about how he used the views of City analysts to create an ‘us against them’ mentality within Tesco that helped drive its performance. He lists its successes and points out how Tesco was an innovator and got it right when the City doubted that it would.

Will his chosen successor have the same ability? Perhaps. Tesco is still tipped to gain more market share in the UK as it opens more neighbourhood shops.

Many successful local retailers should think about the attributes above, whether they share them and whether they should use them more.