Sir Jack employed Lord MacLaurin as his first management trainee. This tough streetfighter from the East End, who single-handedly built Tesco Mark 1, saw something of himself in the young Lord MacLaurin, despite the latter's urbane appearance and public school education. How right he was. His first trainee had the vision, inner strength and conviction that secured Tesco's future, left rivals floundering and made it one of the movers and shakers of retailing. It was a close thing. Tesco was on its knees when that poisoned chalice was passed to MacLaurin.
War between family factions had bled the company dry. Its stock market status had been continually undermined. Take-over talk was everywhere and it required nerves of steel, vision and the ability to deliver it to turn things round and build that ailing company into today's world-class player. This massive transformation places Lord MacLaurin above any other retailer.
Fast forward to the 1980s and a fresh-faced graduate marketer beavering away in the white heat of chilled foods in an aggressively growing Tesco - Sir Terry Leahy. With the unerring instinct that led Sir Jack to Lord MacLaurin, MacLaurin was led to Sir Terry.
So when experts are discussing Tesco succession my guess is they are looking in the wrong place, unless candidates are 10-20 years younger than the present
encumbent. Tesco has the genius of producing home-grown leaders. I see no reason why that formula will not prevail in the future. Others might like to take a leaf out of Tesco's book.