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Tesco hires Burberry chair to replace John Allan after misconduct allegations

Supermarket chain Tesco has announced it is appointing Gerry Murphy as its new chair to replace John Allan who stepped down following allegations of misconduct.

Currently chair of the Burberry Group and Tate & Lyle plc, Dr Murphy will start the new role on the board on 1 September this year. At the same time, it was announced he is stepping down from his position at Tate and Lyle to “ensure he has sufficient capacity to act as Chair of Tesco”.

The Irish businessman said: “I am delighted to join the Tesco Board as its chair.

“Tesco has a very important role to play in its markets, serving customers, communities and the planet a little better every day.

“I’m fully committed to helping Ken and the Tesco team deliver on this purpose and very excited about the strategic opportunities for growth across the Tesco group.”

Paying tribute to his predecessor, Mr Allan, he added: “John has left Tesco with its business, management and board in great shape and fit for the future.”

Mr Allan, who had been chair of Tesco since 2015, left in June amid claims of inappropriate behaviour towards four women.

The firm said at the time of his resignation: “While we have received no complaints about John’s conduct and made no findings of wrongdoing, these allegations risk becoming a distraction to Tesco.”

Three of the allegations were “vigorously denied” by Mr Allan, Tesco said, adding that he had “unreservedly apologized” for the other, a comment made about a woman’s dress at an event in 2019.

FILE PHOTO: Tesco Non-executive chairman, John Allan poses for a photograph in London, Britain, April 12, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay//File Photo
Mr Allan stepped down from the Tesco board in May amid allegations of misconduct. (Photo: Hannah Mckay/Reuters)

It came in the wake of investigations into the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), of which Mr Allan was its president from 2018 to 2020.

In an earlier statement, Mr Allan said he was standing down “with regret” following “anonymous and unsubstantiated allegations made against me” which he described as “utterly baseless, as the internal procedures undertaken by Tesco prove.”

Dr Murphy has extensive experience in corporate leadership, not only as chair of both luxury fashion label Burberry and food and beverage ingredient supplier Tate & Lyle, but also as former group chief executive of Kingfisher plc, which owns B&Q and Screwfix, and former chief executive of Carlton Communications plc, Exel plc and Greencore Group plc.

Byron Grote, Tesco’s interim chair, said: “The Board conducted an extensive search for a new Chair and we are delighted that Gerry is joining the Board and taking on the Chair role.

“He was the unanimous choice of the Board and will bring to our Board a record of strong and effective boardroom leadership and a deep understanding of retail and consumer-focused businesses and corporate governance.”

Nick Hampton, Tate & Lyle’s chief executive said Dr Murphy had made “a significant contribution to Tate & Lyle over the last six years” and “led the board expertly through a major strategic transformation”.

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