Sir Terry has (almost) left the building. As he tidied his desk this week, Leahy sold £12m shares. And no-one will begrudge him the withdrawal.

For when Leahy finally strolls out of head office, a day after turning 55, this quiet but forceful giant of the industry can look back on a career in which he helped turn a basket case around, and then transformed it into a global retail behemoth.

In typical Tesco fashion, there will be no huge fanfare to mark his departure, despite his achievements at the company. Since he took over as CEO in 1997, Tesco has cemented its position as undisputed heavyweight champion of retailing in the UK, serving 20 million customers each week.

Tesco also trailblazed a path for supermarkets to move into internet retailing and diversified into alternative avenues as varied as beauty salons and banking. It also expanded into 14 countries worldwide including the US and China.

Sir Terry has kept quiet about what he plans to do next. The retail world will be watching. But eyes will be averted to watching what successor Philip Clarke does to make his presence felt. We wish both good luck. 

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Tesco tipped to gun for low-price rivals as Clarke takes helm (26th February 2011)