NEW TESCO CFO Alan Stewart has been parachuted in two months early in a desperate attempt to steer the supermarket group away from the financial and credibility crisis gripping it.
It follows its shock announcement on Monday that it had overstated its half-year profits by a staggering £250,000.
The former Marks and Spencer finance chief has now kick-started his CFO role today – well ahead of his planned start date of 1 December – after his former employers agreed to let him forego working out his full notice.
Tesco’s new chief executive, Dave Lewis, who only joined the beleaguered retail group on 1 September, yesterday oversaw four senior executives including UK business MD Chris Bush be suspended while they handed over their laptops and smartphones to accountants Deloitte and law firm Freshfields who are spearheading the investigation into the accounting errors.
Tesco’s shares have now plummeted to 197.8p – down from their 400p high just two years ago and someway off their all time best of 487p.
The company has been without a finance director since Laurie McIlwee – who received a £1m pay-off – handed in his notice in April.
Well over £2.2bn has now been wiped from Tesco’s value on the stock market.
The three other senior execs suspended are believed to be UK finance director Carl Rogberg, its food commercial director John Scouler and the head of food sourcing Matt Simister.
Sir Richard Broadbent, Tesco’s chairman is facing increasing calls to resign, but he has attempted to head off criticism that he should have uncovered the issue sooner
“Things are always unnoticed until they have been noticed. The shareholders will have to decide for themselves whether I’m part of the solution or part of the problem.”
If former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s truism that a week is a long time in politics, then a day would appear to be even longer in supermarket retailing.