LONDON, June 28 A former chairman of Tesco
, the world's No.3 retailer, said that restoring the
store group's fortunes could take up to three years and appealed
to investors to give Chief Executive Phil Clarke sufficient
Once one of the most consistent British companies in terms
of earnings growth, Tesco, which trails France's Carrefour
and U.S. group Wal-Mart by annual sales, has
had a particularly testing year.
In April the firm posted its first profit fall in two
decades, wrote down the value of its global operations by $3.5
billion and confirmed plans to exit its loss-making U.S.
business Fresh & Easy.
"We're all very sad in this room to see the legacy that
Terry Leahy (CEO from 1997 to 2011) left," Ian MacLaurin told
shareholders on Friday at the firm's annual meeting.
"It is a very sad situation - your enormous writedowns,
(and) the situation in America," said MacLaurin, who chaired
Tesco from 1985 to 1997.
MacLaurin said Tesco's board and shareholders had to counter
"an age of short-termism" by taking a long-term view and giving
Clarke - who took over from Leahy in March 2011 - and his team
time to fix things.
"This job is going to be probably two or three years," he
Tesco avoided a rebellion from investors over executive pay
at the AGM.
Some 95.2 percent of shareholders who voted at the meeting
backed the firm's executive pay report, even though advisory
group Pensions Investment Research Consultants (Pirc) had called
on investors to vote against it in protest at what it regarded
as excessive payoffs to two departed executives.
Tesco paid Tim Mason, the former boss of Fresh & Easy, and
Richard Brasher, ousted as the head of the UK business in March
2012, "liquidated damages" of 1.68 million pounds ($2.6 million)
and 1.3 million pounds respectively in the 2012-13 year.