Conduct claims

Tesco chair quits to ‘avoid risk of distraction’

John Allan addressing the CBI Scotland annual dinner in September 2019 (pic: Terry Murden)

Tesco has announced that chairman John Allan will be leaving the supermarket and banking business amid allegations that have emerged in recent weeks.

There have been no complaints about his conduct and no findings of wrongdoing, but the board said claims in the media “risk becoming a distraction to Tesco”.

Mr Allan has faced four allegations in relation to his personal conduct, three of which he ‘vigorously denied’, and one over which he ‘unreservedly apologised’ for inappropriate comments made to a female member of staff.

He is a former president of the CBI which is mired in allegations of misconduct and has recently hired a new director general and a people officer.

One of the allegations against Mr Allan related to the Tesco AGM in 2022. In response, Tesco immediately instigated an extensive review.

Staff were invited o come forward if they had concerns regarding any conduct issues and specifically at the Tesco 2022 AGM. Tesco attendees at the meeting have been further contacted, including staff who have since left the company.

Available video footage of the meeting has been reviewed, as have internal complaints records, including from the company’s confidential whistleblowing service. 

The scope of the review has been considered by external legal counsel, who advised that the steps were reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances. 

This review has not identified any evidence or complaints in relation to Mr Allan at the Tesco 2022 AGM or at all in his tenure as Tesco chair. 

Mr Allan was appointed in 2015 and his tenure as chair was due to end shortly. A succession planning process had already been initiated over recent months and is expected to conclude in the near future. 

Senior independent director and interim chair Byron Grote said: “John has made a valuable contribution to Tesco during his eight years as chair. He has successfully led the board through the turnaround and Covid whilst helping to rebuild the business.

“While we have received no complaints about John’s conduct and made no findings of wrongdoing, these allegations risk becoming a distraction to Tesco. On behalf of the board, I thank him for his substantial contribution to the business. We are well advanced in our search for a new chair and will make an announcement in due course.” 

As the company’s notice of Annual General Meeting 2023 has already been issued, the company confirms that the resolution to re-elect John Allan as a director of the company is now withdrawn.

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