Such was the scale of its problems and so abrupt his arrival, that some analysts had not even finished writing their “to do list” when Tesco boss Dave Lewis arrived to start his Tesco rescue mission a month earlier than planned.
However, it’s safe to say that bolstering the UK management team of the troubled retailer was pretty near the top of most of them - and that was before the small matter of a £263m financial black hole and an investigation which saw eight senior executives being asked to step aside.
So it was with a pretty unanimous feeling of relief that people greeted the announcement yesterday that Lewis was putting in place a new line up to fill the worrying vacuum that he has been left with at the top - albeit one that won’t come into effect until 1 January, by which time, if the pessimists are proved right, Tesco may have suffered another shoeing from the discounters and Amazon.
There was less agreement about how much the appointments say about Lewis’ longer term strategy for Tesco, not least in his decision to take a more hands on role in running the UK business now he has got his feet under the table.
Some, like Bernstein’s Bruno Monteyne, point to the benefits of not having two UK bosses, as Tesco has done in the past, which can lead to “paralysis and conflict” at the top.
However, in his admittedly brief announcement yesterday, Lewis referred to that part of the jigsaw as being “temporary”, with surely all the indications pointing to him looking to bring in a top talent from outside the company in the New Year.
That is not to say Lewis did not inherit an organisation with considerable talent, including the highly regarded Jason Tarry, formerly head of clothing at Tesco, who has taken on the head of commercial role in the UK vacated by John Scouler and also the global commercial role left from the departure of fellow ‘Cheshunt 8’ member Kevin Grace.
That sort of combining of roles could turn out to be just the start for Lewis, who has already spoken about how top-heavy the management of Tesco has become.
A simplification of the structure, which saw him lament the 32 different offices in the UK alone at the delayed interims, would not only free up valuable resources to bolster front line stores but it will stop Tesco being pulled in too many directions at once by too many people with too many overlapping titles.
Already out of the exit door as part of this week’s announcement go chief creative officer Matt Atkinson’ and group business planning and strategy director David Hobbs’ (neither of whom were among those stood down following the scandal) and there are widespread rumours that many more at a mid-management level will depart in due course, with the new man at the helm determined to bring Tesco back to its core.
Whilst nobody wishes job losses, it may well be better for Tesco in the long run to be lean of management in the HQs rather than workers in the aisles.
What is less certain is what the shake-up means for its digital ambitions.
Whilst the clock appears to be ticking on ventures such as Blinkbox, the move of Robin Terrell, former online boss, to the new role of head of customer, with no news yet on whether there will be a new dedicated digital chief, is intriguing.
Terrell is no online “blue sky” thinker and his role could be vital in putting the really important areas of digital, such as online deliveries, click and collect at the centre of Tesco’s business, whilst doing away with some of the added extras Lewis has on his hit list.
Benny Higgins, head of Tesco Bank, looks like playing an important role in advising Lewis and his group CFO Alan Stewart, on other areas of the business which might go, although ironically much of the speculation since the results has focused on the bank itself.
Yet perhaps the most unexpected element of the announcement was the return of head of food sourcing Matt Simister to his old role, a move which will no doubt have surprised many in the industry, who has speculated there could be no way back for any of the Cheshunt 8, at Tesco at least.
With some of those, including Scouler, Grace and UK MD Chris Bush reportedly having now left the company, the intrigue over the senior management and its financial over-reporting will carry on, at least as long as the Serious Fraud Office investigation rages - some are even suggesting this could take years.
But at least now Lewis has a team at the helm which can go forward with something resembling a fresh start, even if the next few weeks could make it a very tough one indeed.