Jason Tarry

Jason Tarry at The Grocer Gold Awards

Tesco UK CEO Jason Tarry is to step down at the supermarket giant, to be replaced by former Aldi supremo Matthew Barnes.

Tarry has worked for Tesco for more than 33 years, including six as UK CEO, having become the right-hand man of former boss Dave Lewis and played a major role in its turnaround following the 2014 financial crisis.

Tesco said Tarry’s leadership had guided Tesco through its recovery and also the pandemic, and had rebuilt its competitiveness in the UK by putting customers back at the heart of the business.

Tarry will leave in March, staying to guide Tesco through one last Christmas and end-of-year trading period.

Barnes’ appointment is one that will also send shockwaves through the industry, having previously been tipped as a potential successor to David Potts at Morrisons.

He oversaw the transformation of Aldi in the UK and is widely credited with reinventing the discounter format, which had been the trigger for seismic changes in the pecking order and structure of supermarkets across the UK.

He served as Aldi CEO from 2015 to 2018 before being promoted to co-head of Aldi Süd’s executive board, where he had responsibility for many of Aldi’s international businesses and its global sourcing, buying and supply chain.

Barnes resigned in February after five years of commuting weekly from his home in the UK to Salzburg.

Tarry joined Tesco in October 1990 as part of its graduate recruitment programme. He went on to hold several positions in both food and non-food divisions, including impulse and bakery category director, non-food sourcing director and clothing category director.

He became CEO of group clothing in 2012, which included UK & ROI store and online operations, as well as overseeing F&F’s Asia business and franchise partnerships.

But in December 2014 it was announced Tarry would join the executive committee as head of commercial for UK and group, with effect from January 2015.

Having been a surprise appointment for many observers, Tarry went on to be a key player in Lewis’s turnaround of the retailer, including leading its sweeping range review Project Reset.

He won plaudits for rebuilding supplier relations at the same time as getting Tesco back to firing on all cylinders in stores.

He oversaw the ramping up of Tesco’s Clubcard Prices strategy and its Aldi Price Match, influenced heavily by the threat posed by the man who will now succeed him at the Welwyn c-suite.

He becomes the latest of Lewis’s former top team to leave, following the departure of marketing boss Alessandra Bellini, which was announced last month.

Paying tribute to Tarry, Tesco group CEO Ken Murphy said: “Jason has made an immense contribution to our business. Under his leadership, Tesco today is the most competitive we have ever been, built on exceptionally strong foundations of doing the right thing for our customers and colleagues.

“His values and commitment to creating a high-performing, supportive and diverse culture have been key to creating the Tesco we know today.

“I am incredibly grateful to Jason for his leadership of the UK business and his critical role on the executive committee. We have five months until Jason leaves us, and I know he will do his utmost to ensure our UK business continues its very strong performance until then, including delivering a winning Christmas.”

Tarry said: “Little could I have imagined 33 years ago, the journey I would go on with Tesco. My life in Tesco has been a wonderful experience.

“This decision was not made easily but this is the right time for me to move on. I am grateful to my amazing colleagues and the lifelong friends I have made here. I will continue to give my all to being UK CEO until March, and my determination that we give our customers the best Christmas is heightened knowing that this will be my last as a Tesco colleague.”

Murphy also paid tribute to Barnes, who will join Tesco on 1 March.

Matthew Barnes_0001

“I believe the combination of Matthew’s extensive retail experience, competitive spirit and challenger mindset will help us continue to win in the UK market and evolve our thinking about what customers will want from Tesco in the future,” he said.

“We look forward to welcoming Matthew to Tesco early next year, and I’d like to thank Jason for all the support he has given to creating a smooth transition plan.”

Barnes said: “I have always had the highest respect for Tesco, and I’m really excited to be joining the team. It is an honour to be appointed as UK CEO. I come to this role with a real sense of determination to ensure that we build on the progress of the last number of years and deliver for our customers and colleagues.”