Tesco boss Terry Leahy has criticised a leading researcher for suggesting that retail profits will spiral downwards over the next five years. Verdict chairman Richard Hyman told the Marketing Society's retail forum: "All the evidence suggests that things are only going to get tougher as competition increases. "And margins will not.recover," he added. But Leahy, at a question and answer session later in the day, described Verdict's predictions as negative. He said: "I am afraid I will have to disagree that the outlook is as bleak as Hyman suggests." Hyman said the only way food retailers could prosper was by increasing their focus on non foods. But while Leahy accepted non food would play an important part in Tesco's future, he said that wasn't the entire answer. He said: "It's not a formulaic thing. I think that the most sucessful food retailer is the one that best understands its customers, the environment it is operating in and its own strengths and weaknesses." {{NEWS }}