Tesco hires M&S's Alan Stewart

Tesco, the U.K.'s biggest supermarket, has recruited Marks & Spencer's Alan Stewart to join the executive team as CFO.

Stewart, 45, will join Tesco after he meets the terms of his existing contract, reported Bloomberg. Stewart will replace Laurie McIlwee, whose departure was announced in April following reported differences with CEO Philip Clarke.

Since Clarke became CEO in March 2011, six leadership directors have left the company.

The new CFO has the experience to "play a leading role in the transformation of Tesco," Clarke said in a statement. Stewart's previous roles include running the U.K. operations for Thomas Cook Group, a tourism company, and serving as CFO of WH Smith, a books and newspaper retailer.

Clarke is hoping to assist in a turnaround for Tesco, who has lost shoppers to discounters and upscale stores such as Marks & Spencer. His plan focuses on refurbishing large stores, retraining staff and investing $342 million a year to lower prices on essential food items.

Comparatively, Marks & Spencer has outpaced its clothing division with ready meals and fresh produce. Same-store sales for food advanced 1.7 percent in the first quarter.

"We wanted a candidate who had the right blend of experience, leadership and values to play a leading role in the transformation of Tesco," Clarke told Reuters.

Tesco was the previous owner of the Fresh & Easy food chain store in the United States but sold the division after six years of continued quarterly losses. The model of the store, along with the bad timing of the recent U.S. recession, lead to the company finally declaring bankruptcy and selling the Fresh & Easy brand to Yucaipa Cos.

For more:
-See this Bloomberg article
-See this Reuters article

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