TESCO’s UK chief operating officer has emerged as front- runner to be the supermarket giant’s new UK chief executive, with an appointment expected in the first quarter of next year.
Chris Bush is increasingly seen as the favourite to succeed Richard Brasher, who stepped down as boss of the group’s under-performing UK arm last March soon after the company’s first profits warning in a generation.
Such an appointment would spark mixed reactions among investors, however. Bush is regarded as the best internal candidate for the plum job, with the key UK operation accounting for 70 per cent of group profits.
He was brought back to the UK at the start of the year from Tesco’s business in Thailand, which he headed, by group chief executive Philip Clarke.
But some investors believe fresh blood is needed at Britain’s biggest food retailer, which has seen an exodus of top staff in the past two years.
One analyst said: “Bush is a 30-year veteran of Tesco. He has a good reputation and is a Clarke man. But we think that Tesco should be strengthening its team by bringing in experienced, high profile external people.
“Of course, this may happen in conjunction with Bush getting promoted, or it may be that Tesco is finding it difficult to find people it is happy with.”
It is thought an announcement could come as early as January, when Tesco updates the City on its Christmas trading. However, some believe it could be delayed if the group issues a poor trading statement.
Tesco declined to comment.