Tesco chief Leahy sees his pay rise by 25 per cent to £4m

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Sir Terry Leahy, the chief executive of Tesco, was paid almost 25 per cent more last year than in the previous 12 months. He pocketed almost £4m in salary, bonus and other benefits for the year to 25 February, against £3.2m the previous year.

Tesco's annual report revealed that Sir Terry's basic pay grew by 6 per cent to £1.1m and other benefits improved by 44 per cent to £97,000. He was also awarded 1.28 million shares.

Sir Terry is one of the best paid of Britain's bosses. Only the board of the advertising group WPP was more generously remunerated last year than Tesco's executives. But the pay of the WPP board was flattered by the cashing in of a performance plan by the chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell.

Details of Sir Terry's pay rise come only weeks after Tesco, the country's leading supermarket group, unveiled record full-year profits of nearly £2.3bn.

However, there are concerns within the City that Tesco's balance sheet is not as efficient as it could be and that its shares are lagging the sector.

The news of Sir Terry's pay is certain to fuel the controversy that surrounds the retail giant, which has become subject to a backlash from critics who complain that Tesco is unfairly squeezing suppliers, undermining independent retailers and leading to homogenous high streets across the country.

The Competition Commission recently announced it would investigate a supermarket sector dominated by Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons. The competition watchdog will look into the increasing dominance of supermarkets in non-food markets such as clothes, homeware and electrical goods, and their grabbing of land across the country.

Undeterred, Tesco is marshalling twin assaults on the personal computer and designer clothing markets. More than 50 Tesco Extra stores are to permanently offer up to 20 laptop and desktop personal computers.Tesco will also take on Debenhams and Marks & Spencer when it launches its F&F Collection of designer clothing in September.