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Dan Jago: Tesco's finest

Published:  23 July, 2008

There are three things Dan Jago is keen to talk about these days: Tesco, Tesco and Tesco. Just a month after settling in at the company's Cheshunt offices - with the last week spent working in store, stacking shelves to learn about the heart of the business' - he's certainly caught the Tesco bug

Like many of his contemporaries at the top of the UK wine trade, Jago's entrance into the booze business was more by luck than design. As well as a successful early career sailing the ocean seas with Her Majesty's forces, he almost went into advertising. Or banking. Or even marine underwriting.

However, his first job, during a gap year, was the one that proved the most fateful. When I was 16, I walked into what used to be Capital Radio on the Euston Road. At that time they had Capital Job Finder on the ground floor and the first advert I saw was "wine delivery boy needed, Belgravia, 22 a week", so I went down here and it was Andre Simon on Liverpool Street. My job was delivering wine - on a bicycle.'

A career with the navy followed - nine years going round the world, going from one cocktail party to another' - where he rose to become Navigator Lieutenant Jago - it's still got a ring to it' - a career cut short by poor eyesight.

When I left I didn't know what I wanted to do, I didn't have strong desire to get into wine. I was interviewed for jobs in advertising, banking and marine underwriting but didn't get any of them, so I went back to the owners of Andre Simon, which was by then Layton's, and said "Do you think I could deliver some wine for you while I look for real job?" They said: "No: but you could work as a salesman." Two years later I met Willy Lebus who asked me if I could come and work for him at Bibendum.

Jago's 16 years at Bibendum ended earlier this year after the powers that be decided one managing director was better than two. I knew when I became joint MD in 2001 that there would be a time when we would go down to one, I took the job with that knowledge.' So did he want the top job at Bibendum? I'm not sure I did, in some ways I think I was just about young enough to get away with doing something else, if I'd been there two or three years longer, I might not have felt so confident about leaving.'