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Herald view

IT now appears that Philip Clarke was on a hiding to nothing when he completed his rise from the shop floor three years ago.

For all his achievements, Sir Terry Leahy had left behind an empire that within two years had to write down £1.2 billion on a US adventure and £800 million on a landbank for stores that were never going to be built as a new shopping era dawned.

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Critically, the Tesco juggernaut with its out-of-town industrial warehouse model was being overtaken on the inside by upmarket Waitrose and Marks & Spencer, and by the so-called discounters Lidl and Aldi from Germany.

Aldi last month promised to double its stores from 500 to 1,000, including up to 150 in Scotland, while Lidl is talking of more than doubling its 600 stores, 89 of them in Scotland.

Tesco's market share is still 28.9 per cent, hardly a crash from the 30.7 per cent when Sir Terry timed his departure so well.

But if new boss Dave Lewis takes a trolley round Lidl or Aldi he will find that it is not all about a price war: compact, less choice but plenty of quality, especially in fresh food, local (Scottish) produce easy to find, no confusing offers and wasteful three-for-two promotions, no shelves full of exotic breads at 7pm about to go to waste, fast packing, and a new till opened as soon as a queue forms. What's not to like?

Recently, Sainsbury's announced an intriguing joint venture with Danish discount store Netto. Investors will be looking to Mr Lewis to convert the old 'Tescopoly' into an innovative force in the market.

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