Sunday 15 December 2019

Tesco parachutes in new CFO amid accounting scandal

‘Every Little Helps’: Tesco has uncovered a £250m black hole in its accounts
‘Every Little Helps’: Tesco has uncovered a £250m black hole in its accounts
Alan Stewart will join Tesco as their new finance director
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Tesco has scrambled to contain the fallout from its accounting scandal by parachuting in its new chief financial officer more than two months early.

Alan Stewart got his feet under the desk at Tesco yesterday. He wasn't due to start the job until December 1.

But Tesco managed to strike a deal with Marks & Spencer, Mr Stewart's former employer, in order to permit him to start his new job this week.

Tesco insisted it did not pay any financial compensation to M&S in order to allow Mr Stewart to begin his new role earlier than planned.

The move came as Tesco sought to shore up its foundations after it was rocked by the discovery of a £250m (€318m) black hole in its accounts.

The grocery retailer - the world's third biggest and Ireland's largest - over-stated its first-half results and has launched a major probe as it tries to figure out exactly what was going on, and for how long.

That probe is being spearheaded by Deloitte and legal firm Freshfields.

Tesco immediately asked four executives to step aside while the investigation is underway, including the head of its UK business, Chris Bush.

Mr Stewart was finance director at Marks & Spencer for four years. His appointment at Tesco was announced earlier this year.

He replaces Laurie McIlwee, who resigned in April. It's believed Mr McIlwee disagreed with former Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke over strategy.

Mr Clarke resigned from the retailer during the summer after the chain issued another profit warning.

He had bet Tesco's revival on a plan that involved hiring more staff, refurbishing stores and reducing prices.

Mr Clarke was replaced by former Unilever senior executive Dave Lewis.

Tesco's profits have been hit and its market dominance in the UK undermined by competition, including that from German retailers Aldi and Lidl.

Shares in Tesco slumped 11pc on Monday after it revealed the accounting problem and they fell a further 4.2pc yesterday. More than €3bn has been wiped off its market capitalisation in just two days.

Irish Independent

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