New Tesco boss Dave Lewis has vowed the retailer will “go back to core principals”, after describing his first week in the hotseat as a “rollercoaster”.

Lewis admitted he had been nervous as he started work at Cheshunt but described his new role as an “unmissable opportunity” after his 27 years at Unilever

The new CEO, speaking in a video posted by Tesco on YouTube, said he would not make any “knee-jerk” decisions to try to turn around Tesco’s fortunes but said: “I think it’s pretty clear that we’ve got to get back to the core of our business.

“We need to get back to the place where we have offered to our customers an experience that is better than anybody else that operates in the marketplace we’re re in. What that element has to be to be better we still need to work out together, but we will go back to the core. We will go back to finding out what it is, be it service, be it availability.”

Lewis admitted Tesco’s reputation had been challenged and said he would not shirk from making changes to his management team if it was needed.

‘Drastic Dave’

However, he urged Tesco staff not to worry about his nickname ‘Drastic Dave’, earned after he made a swingeing series of cuts in his former role as boss of Unilever in the UK.

Speaking of that period he said: “We made a lot of changes because the businesses was poorly performing and The Grocer at the time chose to describe those changes as drastic because they were all encompassing so that’s where the name came from.

“I thought it had disappeared but since I got this job it seems to have come back.

“Its fine; it’s OK for The Grocer to focus on the degree of change but I’d like people to recognise that once we’d made those changes, that business, to now, is on its 27th quarter of consecutive growth having had 10 years of underperformance.”

Brand reputation

Lewis admitted Tesco’s morale had been damaged as well as its brand reputation.

“I’m not naïve about the position of the brand but I see that as an opportunity,” he said.

“It’s easy to talk but you change reputation by doing and we have 320,000 people in the UK, half a million colleagues around the world and we touch so many customers.

“If we can change how it is they experience us, then the opportunity to turn around that reputation is massive.”

Asked if he planned to change the Tesco leadership team Lewis said: “I’m going to work with the team in this business. I joined it because I think it’s a fantastic business with fantastic people in it. 

“Will there be changes? Let’s be honest, there has to be, we don’t want the trends affecting our business to carry on, but what the nature of those changes will be you’re just going to have to trust me for a while.

“If I need to, I will change things, I will make those calls.”

The new Tesco boss said the lack of morale at Tesco was palpable.

“I can feel it. I see it as one of my biggest priorities to get that morale recovered,” he added.

He also vowed to visit its operation in central Europe and Asia, amid speculation that there could be further changes to Tesco’s global empire.

“I’m not going to be making any hasty decisions, any knee-jerk decisions,” added Lewis, who said he had “no pre-conceived ideas”.

“I’m very happy with the business we’ve got. What I would ask everybody to do is keep their focus on making the customer experience better.”