DunnHumby global chief executive Simon Hay is leaving the business just over a year after Tesco’s “farcical” attempt to flog off the company; a move which potentially cost him a small fortune.
Hay has been at DunnHumby for 25 years, joining from CACI in 1991 as an account director. Over the years, he has moved up the ranks and also led the US division, but returned to London in 2009 to spearhead the UK & Ireland operation; he took on his current role in 2011.
Hay is leaving at the end of the month to “pursue new challenges” and the search has kicked off for a successor.
Founded by husband and wife team Clive Humby and Edwina Dunn in 1989 in the kitchen of their Chiswick home, Tesco took a majority stake in DunnHumby in 2001; it now employs more than 2,000 people in 30 countries.
However, following a strategic review in 2015, Tesco decided the business was surplus to requirements and started hawking it around. The £2bn price tag would have seen Hay – a shareholder in the company – become a multi-millionaire overnight.
The list of potential suitors was extensive, and were said to include General Atlantic, Permira with Google; Apax Partners, CVC Capital, and even Experian. WPP was the closest, although contract restrictions made the sell off unrealistic.
When the sale was eventually called off in October 2015, one insider said: “The whole thing has been farcical from start to finish. God knows where the £2bn valuation came from in the first place. But to then withdraw its most profitable partner and expect the winning firm to repitch for Clubcard, it is difficult to see what was left to buy.”
Recognising Hay’s contribution to the business, a Tesco spokesman said: “In Simon’s time, the brand has become synonymous with outstanding problem-solving to help grocers serve their customers better. He has built a team of data scientists who remain the envy of the industry and set up the business for the next phase of its growth.
“We’d like to thank Simon for all his hard work and wish him well for the future.”
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