UK Retailer Tesco Poaches CFO from Rival

UK clothing and food retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) said that its chief finance officer (CFO) Alan Stewart has left to join Tesco, the country’s biggest supermarket chain, to take up the same role.

Stewart’s departure was announced two days after helping M&S chief executive (CEO), Marc Bolland, present first-quarter sales. His arrival at Tesco is regarded as a boost to its CEO, Philip Clarke, as the retailer’s steady sales growth over many years has suffered a reversal in recent quarters.

“We wanted a candidate who had the right blend of experience, leadership and values to play a leading role in the transformation of Tesco. We have found all three in Alan,” Clarke said.

Tesco had been seeking a new CFO since April, when Laurie McIlwee announced his intention to depart. The group said that Stewart would join “following satisfaction of existing contractual obligations.”

Stewart has held the post of CFO at M&S since October 2010 and had responsibility for property added to his role just 11 days ago when Bolland shuffled the remits of his executive team. He is a former finance director of another UK high street chain, WH Smith, and has also held executive roles at HSBC and travel firm Thomas Cook.

M&S said that Stewart’s responsibilities will be carried out on an interim basis by Paul Friston, a former director of financial group control who was recently appointed as executive assistant to Bolland. It added that a search for Stewart’s successor was already underway.

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