Big stores are ‘progress’ - Former Tesco boss

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THE former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy has described the rise of supermarkets and the closure of small shops across the country as “part of progress”.

Leahy ran the supermarket company for over a decade at a time when it ­became one of the world’s biggest retailers, but critics have accused it of driving smaller independent shops out of business and turning town centres into ghost towns.

Appearing on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, he told host Kirsty Young he had mixed feelings on the issue. Asked if seeing boarded-up shops made him sad, Leahy said: “It does, but it is part of progress. People are not made to shop in supermarkets, they choose to shop there.

“High streets, some of them are medieval, and the way that we live our lives now is very different, so what you have to do is make sure the benefits outweigh the costs, and I think that they do.”

The Liverpool-born businessman added that his ­devotion to Tesco was so strong that he bribed his children to inform on their mother if she ever shopped at Waitrose.

He also revealed an unlikely connection with punk rockers UK Subs, telling Young how he lived in a flat above them and once kept them awake by listening to his radio too loudly.