GSK hires ex-Tesco boss Sir Dave Lewis to lead healthcare spin-off

The pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline has hired the former Tesco boss Sir Dave Lewis to chair the consumer healthcare business that it plans to spin off next year.

GSK told investors on Monday morning that Lewis, who left Tesco in September last year, would be appointed as non-executive chair designate from 1 gennaio.

The group’s consumer healthcare business – which runs brands including Sensodyne toothpaste – will demerge from the wider group in mid-2022 and list separately on the London Stock Exchange.

Lewis said: “GSK Consumer Healthcare is a world-class business with significant prospects and a high-quality leadership team. I am looking forward to being part of its exciting future as an independent company and the very positive impact it can have on people’s health all over the world.”

Lewis was parachuted in to run Tesco in 2014 and oversaw a five-year turnaround from a financial crisis and accounting scandal that had almost shredded the grocer’s blue chip reputation.

His departure was unexpected at the time. Announcing his decision in late 2019, Lewis said he was leaving the company in “position of strength” and had completed a recovery plan mapped out at a time when the supermarket had issued five profits warnings in a year.

He cashed in more than £13m of share options in October 2020 as he exercised bonuses handed out over his time at the helm. The payments were part of more than £30m in total pay since he joined Tesco.

Before joining Tesco, Lewis was a veteran of the consumer goods giant Unilever, a rival to GSK’s consumer healthcare business.

Sir Jonathan Symonds, the chair of GSK, disse: “I am delighted to welcome Dave as chair designate of the new consumer healthcare company. He brings outstanding global consumer and retail sector experience that will be of valuable support to Brian McNamara and the management team as they deliver the full potential of this new world-leading consumer healthcare company.”

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