Tesco’s under-pressure boss Philip Clarke was landed a fresh blow yesterday as the group’s finance chief announced his resignation ahead of annual results in less than two weeks.
Laurie McIlwee, who has been with the group for 14 years, is thought to have faced pressure from shareholders and speculation was rife that he had clashed with Clarke over strategy.
Rumours of his imminent departure have been circulating for some months after investors are said to have questioned the finance director’s position following a larger-than-expected slump in central European profits last autumn.
Half-year results in October revealed a 71 per cent plunge in European trading profits and some investors felt the group should have issued a warning in advance.
Tesco said in a statement to the stock exchange that McIlwee decided to step down from the board and resign from the company but had agreed to remain in his role to ensure a smooth handover to his successor.
He was quoted as saying: “I am proud of what we have achieved at Tesco over the last few years. However, after 14 years at Tesco I feel that now is the right time for me to pursue new opportunities. I wish Philip and the team well and I am absolutely confident that Tesco will emerge from the current period of unprecedented change in the industry stronger than ever.”
His departure compounds the woes for Clarke, who is already struggling to make a £1 billion overhaul bear fruit.
Clarke, whose own future at the group has been the subject of speculation, is expected to report another set of disappointing results on 16 April, with analysts predicting a 10 per cent slump in profits. It comes after the firm last year reported its first annual profits fall in nearly 20 years.