Drastic Dave, they once called me - but since we disappeared up our own Herts to the tundra of Welwyn I have more often been referred to as Dave Who? This must be a reference to my Time Lord-like attempts to make big things appear very small, like last year’s £6.2bn loss. Yes, it must be that.
But boy, did I show ‘em. When they one day write the annals of this much-loved brand it will be noted that I, David John Lewis, returned Tesco to turning almost a third of a penny in pre-tax profit for every pound of group sales! Yep, that’s one hundred and sixty-two million whole pounds, friends! At this rate of recovery, ’Sir’ Terry Leahy’s meagre £3.8bn can only be, er, decades away.
So how did I do it (apart from by not being Phil ‘the collar’ Clarke)? Well, only a mind forged in the furnace of commercial genius that is Unilever could have analysed the issues so clearly. First, I realised I could dramatically reduce losses by selling off anything in a place that had funny writing, hence our various closures in Wales.
Second, I nipped into one of the stores and saw (admittedly not many) people buying food and stuff, and it struck me in a blinding flash that this must be the very essence of what it is to run a supermarket business. I sprinted back to the Gulfstream, grabbed a napkin from the trolley and scribbled down my recovery plan. I still have that napkin on my wall: ‘Flog Off the Crap,’ it says.
So farewell, Dobbies and your shonky garden ornaments! Farewell that place that sells giraffe burgers! Farewell Harris + Hoole and your - well, whatever it was you did! And remember - genius does not grow on trees. It grows in phoney farms with made-up names!