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Tesco has drafted in City heavyweight Gerry Murphy as its next chair to replace John Allan, who stepped down this year amid misconduct allegations.
Murphy, who chairs luxury brand Burberry and food group Tate & Lyle, will join the UK’s largest supermarket in September. Part of his mandate will be to help steer the grocer through claims of profiteering levelled at the supermarket industry during a cost of living crisis.
His appointment comes after the departure of Allan in May, which he called premature, following allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards women. Tesco was already looking for his successor as his tenure was set to end soon.
Allan denies three separate allegations of inappropriate conduct. He has “unreservedly” apologised for a fourth allegation in which he admitted to telling a female CBI employee that her dress “suited her figure”.
The Irish businessman previously served as a non-executive for companies including British American Tobacco, Merlin Entertainments and Reckitt Benckiser. He also ran Kingfisher, which owns DIY chain B&Q, as well as Greencore and Carlton Communications, and chaired Blackstone’s main European entity.
He will step down from Tate & Lyle in September after more than six years in the role to ensure he has sufficient capacity to act as chair of Tesco. Tate & Lyle chief executive Nick Hampton praised Murphy and his contribution to the business on Saturday. “It has been a pleasure to work alongside him,” he added.
Byron Grote, Tesco’s interim chair who led the recruitment process, said Murphy was “the unanimous choice of the board” and “will bring a record of strong and effective boardroom leadership and a deep understanding of retail and consumer-focused businesses and corporate governance”.
Murphy said he was fully committed to helping chief executive Ken Murphy grow the business. “Tesco has a very important role to play in its markets, serving customers, communities and the planet a little better every day,” he said.
Murphy added: “I also want to pay tribute to my predecessor whom I have known for many years. John has left Tesco with its business, management and board in great shape and fit for the future.”