Finance chief who guided Tesco out of scandal to retire

Britain’s biggest retailer set for an entirely new top executive team by next May

Tesco was on its knees in 2014 when Alan Stewart left Marks & Spencer to join as chief financial officer.

Tesco was on its knees in 2014 when Alan Stewart left Marks & Spencer to join as chief financial officer.

 

Tesco’s finance chief, who helped steer the group from an accounting scandal to a successful turnaround, is to retire, setting the stage for an entirely new top executive team at Britain’s biggest retailer by next May.

Alan Stewart will depart next April, Tesco said on Monday, six months after chief executive Dave Lewis is due to step down and be replaced by Ken Murphy, a former executive at healthcare group, Walgreens Boots Alliance.

Tesco was on its knees in September 2014 when Stewart left Marks & Spencer to join the supermarket group as chief financial officer. The accounting scandal knocked millions off Tesco’s profits and billions from its share price.

In April 2015 the group reported an annual loss of £6.4 billion (€7.2bn), one of the biggest in British corporate history. But by October last year Lewis, chief executive since 2014, declared Tesco’s turnaround complete and this April it reported annual core profits of £3 billion.

“Along with Dave Lewis, he [Stewart] is a key component in effectively saving Tesco,” said Shore Capital analyst Clive Black.

Shares in Tesco were down 1.8 per cent early Tuesday, extending 2020 losses to 10.7 per cent.

Transformation

Tesco said in its statement that Stewart had led its corporate restructuring, rebuilt its balance sheet, guided it back to investment grade and played a huge role in the financial transformation of the business in the past six years.

Stewart will leave on April 30th, 2021, and the board will now conduct a search both internally and externally to identify a successor, it said.

That means from May 2021, Tesco chairman John Allan will have a totally new main board executive team.

Tesco said Stewart has been granted “good leaver” status for his various deferred bonuses and share schemes, conditional on him not taking up employment as a director, consultant or adviser with retail sector competitors for six months after he leaves. – Reuters