I tried to ban my wife from Waitrose': Former Tesco boss admits bribing his family not to shop at rival store
Sir Terry Leahy pays his children to tell him if his wife shops in a rival store
Sir Terry revolutionised shopping by introducing the loyalty card
The father-of-three retired as Tesco’s Chief Executive in 2011

By Chris Hastings

PUBLISHED: 22:24, 2 February 2013 | UPDATED: 22:24, 2 February 2013

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Sir Terry Leahy, the former boss of Tesco, has admitted bribing his family to make sure they don’t shop at arch-rival Waitrose. The former retailing boss admits he complains if his wife Alison ever goes into a Waitrose store and reveals he used to pay his three children to inform on her if she did. In an interview on Sunday's Desert Island Discs, Sir Terry reveals he would deliver a ‘severe telling off’ every time he found products from the rival store in the family’s fridge.

Store war: Sir Terry Leahy with his wife Alison who he has banned from shopping at Waitrose

He said: 'I actually bribe my children to sort of inform on Alison if ever she popped into Waitrose when she picked up the kids from school.' Asked if his wife had ever shopped at Waitrose Sir Terry replied: 'Occasionally but I would complain so much that she wouldn’t bother.'


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Sir Terry, who retired as Tesco’s Chief Executive in 2011, is credited with transforming the chain into the country’s most successful retailer and revolutionised shopping by introducing the concept of the loyalty card. He said he understood why people lamented the loss of traditional retailers like the local butcher and baker but insisted that supermarkets were more in tune with the needs of the modern world.

He said: '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 we live our lives now is very different. What you have to do is make sure the benefits outweigh the costs and I think that they do.'

Success story: Former Tesco boss Terry Leahy is credited with introducing the loyalty card concept and helping transform the supermarket into Britain's most successful retailer

The father-of-three said he believed that 95 per cent of people in Britain liked supermarkets and he had tried not to take criticism of the company to heart when he was in charge of the £35 million business.

He said: 'I tried not to take it personally and to deal with it sensibly and engage with the debate but I felt very strong inside that Tesco was doing the right thing in terms of how it was conducting its business, how it was serving ordinary people how it was employing ordinary people.
Arch-rival: Sir Terry bribed his family to make sure they never shopped in Waitrose

Arch-rival: Sir Terry bribed his family to make sure they never shopped in Waitrose 'But I realised I wasn’t winning the argument with some people. 'You see if you talk to people you’ll find that actually 95 per cent of the population quite like supermarkets and five per cent don’t.

'But of course in Britain 5 per cent of is three million people. They have a voice and they have a right to say what they think.' Sir Terry, who was the son of a greyhound trainer and a nurse and who grew up on a council estate in Merseyside, also expressed concern about the lack of social mobility on some of Britain’s council estates.

He said the social networks which had helped him including his local Catholic Church and the grammar school where he was educated were now in very short supply in some parts of the country. He said: 'I am not sure those council estates have got those same institutions today. That is a shame. 'We have got to find a way of connecting these places to society so people who want to can feel they get out and up.'

Sir Terry’s desert island selections included I Want To Hold Your Hands by the Beatles, Just Can’t Get Enough by Depeche Mode and Homeward Bound by Simon and Garfunkl. He said he would probably pass his time as a castaway by collecting driftwood so he could build his own branch of Tesco. Desert Island Discs will be broadcast today (Sunday) on BBC Radio 4 at 11.15 am and will be repeated on Friday at 9.00 am.