Leahy backs supermarkets 'progress'

News Shopper: Sir Terry Leahy ran Tesco for more than a decade Sir Terry Leahy ran Tesco for more than a decade

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".

Sir Terry ran the supermarket giant for more than a decade which saw it become 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, Sir Terry 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 do outweigh the costs, and I think that they do."

The Liverpool-born businessman told Young 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 theirs and once kept them awake by listening to his radio too loudly.

He said: "I came down to London round about 1980 and it was just at the time of punk music and new wave music, and I got an attic flat in London above a punk rock band called the UK Subs.

"They used to play their music every day to four in the morning and I would be rocked to sleep by the UK Subs, and then I was up one morning with the Today Programme on my transistor radio and there was a bang on the door and it was a man in a leopard skin leotard and he said 'Will you turn that radio down? I'm trying to get some sleep'."

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