Tesco finance and strategy director Andy Higginson looks to be a contender
for a future group CEO role at supermarkets giant Tesco, with his appointment in
late July as chief executive of the newly created Retailing Services business.
Leaving his role as finance director after 11 years’ faithful service (and
therefore, most probably, his membership of The Hundred Group of Finance
Directors) but retaining his group-wide strategy powers and position on the
board, Higginson moves to preside over Tesco’s burgeoning non-food business,
comprising financial services, telecoms and internet shopping. Currently, these
businesses bring in £400m each year – but Higginson’s mandate is to bump that up
to £1bn annually.
The FD’s appointment came on the heels of Tesco’s £950m buyout of the 50%
stake in its personal finance business owned by Royal Bank of Scotland. Tesco’s
strategy is to exploit the crunch and monetise its ever more price-conscious
customers to become a full-service retail bank. As the in-house number cruncher
and a power player in the world of UK FTSE-100 FDs, Higginson is well placed to
make it fly. Higginson will also recruit and manage a new team including a CEO
and FD for Tesco Personal Finance (TPF), and a CEO for Tesco Telecoms. RBS
retail finance scion Benny Higgins joins him to run TPF, while the troubled
bank’s head of cards and direct finance, Iain Clink, joins as TPF FD. It’s a
coup on several counts for Tesco.
So rare is it that a FTSE-100 FD leaves the finance function completely, we
think it could be the start of something big not only for Tesco, but equally for
Higginson. He’s been given the opportunity to show his mettle managing a
business that Tesco has made clear is crucial to its world domination
master-plan, and amid the most challenging consumer environment for years. If
Higginson isn’t actively being groomed for future occupation of the CEO spot –
though we’ve no idea if Sir Terry Leahy has any intentions of moving on, up, or
out – he’ll surely be ready for a group CEO job after this gig.
• Higginson will open our fourth annual Financial Director Summit on
25th-26th September at the Four Seasons Hotel in Hampshire – see
for details – and look out for our exclusive interview with the former FD in
Financial Director this autumn.