Tesco finance chief Laurie McIlwee poised to step down

Kasmira Jefford
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TESCO’S long-serving finance chief Laurie McIlwee is expected to step down as soon as next week, amid mounting pressure on Britain’s biggest supermarket chain to stem falling sales in UK and in Europe.

Concerns over McIlwee’s position at the company emerged in October after Tesco unveiled a 70 per cent slump in European trading profits, which took the market by surprise.

The sharp decline in profits sparked downgrades to forecasts of Tesco’s full-year profit, which it is due to reveal on 16 April, coinciding with McIlwee’s expected exit.

Tesco unveiled plans last month to put the brakes on its expansion and spend £200m slashing prices of everyday products in a bid to claw back falling market share and revive sales.

The retailer has struggled in recent years to reposition itself in the grocery market amid growing competition from discounters Aldi and Lidl and changing shopping habits as consumers move online.

It has already spent more than £1bn revamping stores, recruiting more staff and launching new product ranges since 2012, when it issued its first profit warning in two decades.

McIlwee’s exit will put the pressure on chief executive Philip Clarke to convince investors that he can put Tesco on the right track.

McIlwee has also earned a lot of praise since becoming UK finance director in 2000, helping to steer it through the recession and cut its capital expenditure.