Tesco’s New CEO Takes Over as Online Shopping Surges in U.K.

Tesco Plc’s new chief executive officer reported a strong rise in first-half sales as more people bought groceries while working from home during the pandemic.

Tesco’s like-for-likes sales in the U.K. and Ireland, its core market, rose by 7.2% as people ate more at home than in cafes and restaurants. The pandemic has resulted in higher costs of running its stores, however, and the sales gain was slightly below analysts’ expectations.

Ken Murphy, a former executive ofWalgreens Boots Alliance Inc., takes over running Tesco from Dave Lewis, who left after five years. Lewis reshaped Tesco after an accounting scandal, selling operations in Asia and reducing debt while increasing the chain’s price competitiveness in its home market to meet the challenge of German discounters Lidl and Aldi.

Murphy’s strategy for Tesco has yet to be revealed but he joins the grocer as Britain braces for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. Britain’s grocery market is one of the world’s most competitive and is experiencing a turbocharged increase in the number of people shopping online during the pandemic.

The new CEO has moved quickly to appoint a new chief financial officer, hiring Imran Nawaz fromTate & Lyle Plc, who will join next year, succeeding Alan Stewart.

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