In the wake of Sir Terry’s departure, what course will the new CEO steer, asks Clive Black

A new man is sitting in the chief executive's chair at Cheshunt.

After the reign of Sir Terry Leahy, the world's third-largest retailer is now being driven by another Liverpudlian, this time from the red side of the city, Philip Clarke. And 'drive' is an appropriate term with which to characterise Mr Clarke to our minds; he is someone with considerable energy and ambition for the company.

Sir Terry is a world-class businessman and there is no doubt that he is a tough act to follow. He has handed over a corporate baton to Clarke that is outstanding in its breadth, depth and, hence, potential; the acorns planted in China, India and the US may yet be mighty oaks. And Clarke is the standout character to take Tesco forward with his long experience of Britain, his deep familiarity with group IT & logistics and his most recent success across Asia and Europe.

So what do we see as being in Mr Clarke's in-tray?

Well there's always something to do and we believe that the engine of Tesco's 'mother ship' needs a little finetuning. Recently the non-food side of the business disappointed and this needs to be rectified; we sense actions are in hand, albeit results may take longer.

We also believe that the new Tesco boss will bring new perspectives to the core food offer through his recently assembled UK board with newly imported talent, and to the nature and extent of Tesco UK in the long term.

Outside the UK, we see Asia and Europe as well set, bar Japan, where the future of a sub-scale business in a challenging market needs to be clarified.

'Clarification' is also expected to be an order for another day in the US, where Clarke has set down the target of a clear trajectory towards profitability by early 2013; if this course is not followed, decisiveness is expected to feature.

Finally, the whole Retailing Services side of Tesco will be relatively new territory for the new CEO, given that alongside Fresh & Easy he has had relatively little involvement to date. Tesco Bank, Tesco Telecom and Tesco online do not require fixing and we sense that they are well placed to benefit from Clarke's core trait drive.

Tesco is far from perfect but it is a great British company and we doubt that Clarke's new job will lack interest. We for one wish him well in his new role.

Dr Clive Black is head of research at Shore Capital Stockbrokers.