Well, the return of Archie Norman to grocery isn’t happening, as his last-minute emergence as the next chairman of Tesco came to nought, but how refreshing it is to have Allan Leighton - the other half of Asda’s former dream team - back in the grocery fold.
‘What could an arch capitalist possibly bring to The Co-op Group in terms of values?’ a former Mars colleague of his asked me as rumours of the appointment first emerged.
As it turns out, quite a lot. If the fact that Leighton’s father used to run a Co-op store were not argument enough for his motivation, Leighton’s decision to waive his annual £250,000 salary - or rather, donate it to The Co-op Foundation - shows not only that he means business; he has principles aplenty to underpin it.
Quite aside from his obvious charisma, what’s exciting about Leighton’s appointment is that, with his incredible network of contacts, and his stature, we can expect him to recruit the best minds to the Movement. And that is something that has never really happened since it began amid the cotton mills of Rochdale all those years ago.
If the big four didn’t already have enough to think about, Leighton’s appointment will ensure The Co-op is no longer the weakest link, and gives as good as it gets.
As to the other Allan, the new Tesco chairman may not create the same buzz of excitement - and his appointment is nothing like as intriguing as it would have been to have Archie Norman in the role of Judas - but his is an appointment every bit as credible as Leighton’s. Allan has retailing and fmcg in his bones. Indeed his experience in grocery stretches back even further than Leighton’s - to a marketing, buying and store ops role at Fine Fare. And if such a role equips him little for the rigours of the modern multichannel market, his turnaround of Dixons - giving the mighty Amazon a run for its money in the process - suggests a very different proposition than the hapless banker who preceded him.