SEOUL, Aug. 10 (Korea Bizwire) – Lee Seung-han, chairman of HomePlus, the Korean arm of British supermarket Tesco and Korea’s second-largest retailer after E-Mart, will leave the company for good after stepping down in May last year as CEO for 14 years of service, the longest among leaders in the retail industry.
Since then, he has retained his chairmanship. On August 8, Mr. Lee posted a message on the company’s Intranet bulletin board, “I will resign from all official titles including HomePlus chairman, the HomePlus e-Paran Foundation president, Tesco-HomePlus Academy chairman, and Tesco Group management advisor.”
To this, HomePlus CEO Do Sung-hwan responded, “I accepted his resignation in consideration of his health conditions and his wish to spend more time with his family.”
Mr. Lee is 68 years old. But the real reason behind his departure has to do more with the recent oust of Philip Clarke, Tesco chairman, by the board of directors for failing to stop the slide in sales and profits. Tesco PLC is Britain’s largest retailer and the world’s second-largest after Wal-Mart. He has been close to Mr. Clarke personally.
Some in the retail industry said his resignation was triggered by a recent scandal involving the company’s managers rigging sweepstake outcomes and the continuing labor problems that may snowball into a total strike in all stores across the country. A HomePlus official explained, “His decision was made long before these events and he has been in talks with the British headquarters for months.”
Chairman Lee joined Samsung Group in 1970 and became president of the retail division in Samsung Corporation in 1997. He assumed the job of president for HomePlus when the company was a joint venture between Samsung and Tesco in 1999. In 2011, Samsung sold all its stake in the joint venture, which has since become wholly owned by Tesco. He handed over the CEO title to Do Sung-hwan, the same former Samsung employee.
M.H. Lee (email@example.com)