A former Tesco chief has said he was “humbled” to receive a knighthood on behalf of those who “put feeding the country first” during the pandemic.
Sir Dave Lewis, who ran Britain’s biggest retailer until September 2020, was recognised for his services to the food industry and business.
He is now advising the government on strengthening the supply chain ahead of Christmas.
After collecting his honour from the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle, Lewis said: “It’s a recognition for an awful lot of people in the food industry in the pandemic.”
He added that getting food to people during lockdown was a “phenomenal achievement”.
Supermarkets rapidly expanded their e-commerce services during Covid to deliver to people who were self-isolating.
A month after the pandemic began in March 2020, Tesco became the first British grocer to hit one million deliveries in a week.
“In that first six weeks we recruited nearly 50,000 more people and doubled the delivery capacity to people’s homes,” Lewis said.
“That was just such a tremendous change in the way that people worked and it was happening in difficult circumstances.
“People were concerned but they very much put feeding the country first, which was a remarkable thing to be part of.”
In May 2020, two months into lockdown, Tesco’s board handed Lewis a £4.8 million bonus.
On top of his basic salary – 355 times that of the supermarket’s lowest-paid employee – his total pay stood at £6.4 million.
However, the move was vetoed by 67.3 per cent of Tesco shareholders at the AGM.