Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy highlighted healthcare and climate change among six drivers retailers can use to grow coming out of the recession in a speech yesterday.

Speaking to a packed audience on the main stage at the National Retail Federation conference in New York on Tuesday, Leahy spoke of how Tesco had transformed its fortunes since the end of the last recession. He said: “If we can help people to a better life we have a business; and that’s just as true now as coming out of recession in 1992.”

Of the six drivers for growth he named, healthcare and climate change stood out ahead of trust, information, convenience and simplicity.

On healthcare he said that people want to live forever, and look better, and retailers who can help them with this will do well. Regarding climate change he said that the scientific research is conclusive that the developed world needs to learn to live on 80% less carbon, and “we need to shift the whole basis of consumption onto low carbon”.

Leahy added that Westerners won’t want to consume less, but it is up to retailers to allow them to do this with a much lower carbon footprint. He predicted that in the longer run, many of the winners from the recent recession will be retailers who “helped consumers move to low-carbon living”.

The developing world continues to provide a tremendous opportunity, he said. In particular, Leahy cited huge demand in Asia “for people to have a better material life”.

He added that Tesco’s even mix of own-label to branded products in his UK business has reached a natural level. But outside the UK - with the exception of the US business - own-label makes up between 10%-35% of products offered and this is something Tesco can increase.