Former Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy said he still believes there is room in the UK grocery market for the big four supermarkets.

Terry Leahy

He said now the UK is in recovery following the recession, wages are “inching ahead of prices” meaning that in 2015 people have got some money left in their pockets.

“If [the big four] are innovating and improving their offer, they’ll get the attention from the consumer, in the way that a few years ago they might not have,” he told delegates at Purple WiFi’s customer engagement event in London yesterday.

And responding to the appointment of former Tesco boss David Potts to Morrisons as chief executive this week, Leahy said Potts and chairman Andy Higginson are two very experienced retailers who are “quite complementary as two individuals”.

“It’s a good team to have in Morrisons,” he said, also praising Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe and Tesco’s Dave Lewis who he knows well and thinks has “made a good start” in Tesco.

“They are good businesses – and Asda as well,” added Leahy. “Having worked in retailing around the world, you get a sense of benchmarking, and the four grocers compare very well with any around the world.”

“The UK is a winner, with good management teams and good businesses.”

He also said that while grocers have always been early adopters of technology – naming supply chain innovations, customer relationship management and mobile – they must continue to harness technology in order to stay ahead of competitors.

“They’ll need to continue that at a higher pace as they move to a fully integrated multichannel model,”added Leahy.