Born in Liverpool to Irish immigrants, Terry Leahy’s first appointment with TESCO was as a shelf stacker, earnings from which helped to fund his studies at Manchester University.
He rose to become the Company’s CEO retiring in 2011 leaving it a global operator and the UK’s largest retailer with annual earnings in the billions.
His success arose from his grass routes customer focus which he maintained throughout spending one day per week in store watching and talking with customers and employees. He realised that the most powerful knowledge in terms of directing development lay in knowing what individuals bought every time they entered a store. He applied the bar code technology used to tell where his products were coming from, to tell him precisely where they were going to and when. To do so he introduced the now familiar customer Loyalty Card with its unique bar code. The linking of the supply side bar codes with the customer bar code information was magical enabling Leahy and the Board to make the decisions that took Tesco from a ‘pile it high sell it cheap’ operator to the very top of the retail tree.
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