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In the UK, The Mail reports that news of Tesco’s planned entry into the US marketplace with a chain of convenience stores built from the ground up on the west coast has started the rumor mills churning about how the effort will affect the company’s succession plans.

“Success or failure could decide who will take over from Leahy, who is only 50 this year but is expected to seek a fresh challenge long before retirement,” The Mail writes. “Two men are tipped as possible successors. Tim Mason, former marketing and planning director, has been given the opportunity of glory as head of the latest venture, while Richard Brasher, the ambitious commercial and trading director, will be confirmed as the successor to Mason in the marketing role within days.”

What seems to be of interest to some analysts is the possibility that this apparent line of succession may create on the part of other Tesco senior executives a willingness to go elsewhere for greater challenges, which could weaken Tesco’s bench strength. In just the last few months, at least two senior executives have jumped ship to other retailers.

The Mail writes, “Clearly, Mason's chances of succeeding Leahy will hinge on making the breakthrough in the US. But it will not be easy. As number one in Britain, Tesco usually gets its own way. In America, it will be a tiny start-up operation, unsupported by the vast buying power of a national chain.

“His first job will be to unravel Tesco's £16m stake in a home shopping joint venture with US giant Safeway. And should Tesco start to grow, it will soon attract the enmity of larger retailers, not least Asda owner Wal-Mart, which has huge clout in the supply chain. For Mason, it could be an American dream. Or a nightmare.”
KC's View:
The interesting thing about this is that we think it is the first time we’ve seen any reference to Tesco planning to disengage itself from the home shopping business in owns with Safeway in the US; to be honest, we figured that it might try to find a way to leverage that e-business so that it could serve two masters. But maybe that’s too complicated.

We always wonder if these sorts of machinations actually are taking place back in headquarters, or if they are simply the kinds of things that consultants and analysts think up and members of the press are more than willing to print. The US endeavor is going to generate enough work and opportunity for glory to satisfy almost everyone, we expect…it seems a little early to start figuring out how success or failure will affect the executive suite down the line.