retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Financial Times reports that a number of former UK grocery executives seem to be linked to some of the various bids being made for Safeway Plc.

Archie Norman, the former Asda chairman, reportedly is working with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), the US buy-out specialist. Allan Leighton, another former Asda executive, is in league with retail clothing magnate Philip Green.

And now comes word that Lord Ian MacLaurin, the former CEO of Tesco who built that company into a powerhouse from a pack-it-high-and-sell-it-cheap past, has been contacted by a number of the bidders looking for advice and support.

MacLaurin retired from Tesco five years ago, and now is chairman of Vodaphone. He told FT that he had not made a decision about getting involved with any Safeway bids, and would not identify which of the bidders had approached him.

Among the companies currently bidding for Safeway: Sainsbury, Wal-Mart, KKR, Philip Green, and Wm. Morrison, which started this whole dance by originally bidding for Safeway.
KC's View:
We actually had the chance to spend some time with Lord MacLaurin back when he was Sir Ian and the CEO of Tesco…and we found him to be a remarkably charismatic leader. The discipline and vision he brought to Tesco was considerable, and while the market and consumer needs have changed since his departure, we think he’d be a valuable asset for any company that ends up with Safeway.