Tesco legend Lord MacLaurin warned Sir Terry Leahy that he was “nuts” to launch the retailer’s ill-fated US venture Fresh & Easy.
In an exclusive interview with The Grocer, former CEO MacLaurin revealed he had warned Sir Terry that the venture would fail after receiving a phonecall from his former protege in early 2007.
“He phoned me up one day and said, ‘Ian, we are going to America.’ And I said, ‘Terry, you must be nuts! What on earth are you doing that for?’ He said, ‘I’ve had people out there surveying the marketplace and I think it’s going to be terrific.’”
Tesco put Fresh & Easy into bankruptcy this week, at a cost of £1.4bn, six years after it launched the small format stores in California in 2007.
MacLaurin also said the lack of investment in the UK in the latter years of Sir Terry’s reign had seen it “wobble”.
Lord MacLaurin was at Tesco for 39 years, rising from trainee to executive chairman. He retired in 1997.