Elvis has left the building.

Okay, so Sir Terry Leahy is probably few people’s idea of a rock star. But for UK grocery, his long-awaited exit represents as seismic a departure as when rock and roll died on a Las Vegas toilet in 1977.

He’s surely had a final misty-eyed glance through the telescope of his orbital command pod way above a retail landscape unrecognisable from that he found at the start of his tenure. Maybe his colleagues had a bit of whip-round; gave him some cufflinks, perhaps, or a carriage clock. Or shares and bonuses worth millions of pounds, you know the sort of thing.

It would be nice to see off Sir Terry with some personal recollections of the great man from The Grocer team. But the fact is, despite Sir Terry dominating our industry like no man before him, only those closest to the seat of power really knew him. Business-like. Direct. Not a natural talker. You’ll have read enough profiles of him to know that much already.

More telling is the legacy he leaves behind, having transformed Tesco into what Charles Wilson calls “the scariest beast in grocery”.

Of course, chief executives come and go. And we’ve got some top tips here for the next generation of aspiring Sir Terrys, courtesy of two more titans of retail – Andy Bond and Sir Stuart Rose.

But it’s hard to imagine one figure having a bigger impact on UK grocery in the next decade or two. Maybe Philip Clarke, or even Andy Clarke, can prove us wrong.

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