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Edinburgh banker stepping down

Chief executive Higgins retiring from Tesco Bank

Benny Higgins: retiring

Tesco surprised the market today by announcing that Tesco Bank chief executive Benny Higgins is to retire.

His departure appeared in a statement marking the Edinburgh bank’s 20th anniversary.

Just two weeks ago the bank was making plans for a series of media interviews with Mr Higgins who joined as CEO after Tesco bought out joint partner Royal Bank of Scotland in 2008. He was also appointed group strategy director in 2014.

His time in charge has seen the bank grow into a standalone fixture in the market with a current account and mortgages.

However, some have questioned the capital commitment that the group is now expected to hold following strict new rules on bank stability.

His tenure has also been marked by controversy.  Despite being paid £2.1m he claimed  £18,000 in taxi expenses during an eight-month period for visits to the Opera, private members’ clubs and plush London restaurants and ferrying his daughters to Heathrow airport.  He spent £389.85 on a taxi from the Soho Hotel to the Victoria & Albert museum which would have cost less than £5 on the London Underground.

This was in spite of a clampdown on costs ordered by group chief executive Dave Lewis.

Mr Higgins, who was recently married for a fifth time, joined Tesco from HBOS. He was previously a high-flyer with Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Life. He was recently unveiled as chairman of the National Galleries of Scotland.

In its statement today, Mr Lewis, said: Benny has steered Tesco Bank to the strong position it is in today.  The strong growth in customers, deposits and lending is down to his leadership.  It has been a pleasure having him on the leadership team, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavours.” 

Mr Higgins, who leaves officially next February, said: “As Tesco Bank celebrates its 20 year anniversary, I want to take time to recognise the achievements of colleagues in serving our six million customers.   I am very proud of what we have achieved together and it has been a privilege to work in Tesco Bank and across Tesco for what will have been ten years.”

Tesco Bank now employs 4,000 staff across three sites in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle.

Highlights since full ownership in 2008:

  • Increased customer account numbers from 5.8m to 8.0 million
  • 1 in 4 Clubcard customers has a Tesco Bank product
  • Customer deposits now exceed £8.5 billion, up £5.2 billion
  • Customer lending now exceeds £10 billion, up £6.1 billion
  • Increased total employee numbers from 200 to 4000 at Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle locations
  • Given back to our local communities by raising over £2 million for our charity partners

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