Tesco chair steps down after misconduct allegations

Tesco Plc Chair John Allan has resigned days after he was embroiled in a growing scandal at Britain’s leading business lobby group.

Byron Grote, senior independent director, will stand in as interim chair until a successor is appointed, the UK’s biggest grocer said in a statement on Friday. Allan’s term is almost up, according to the retailer, and he will formally step down at the annual meeting on June 16.

The company said four allegations had been made in relation to Allan’s conduct, following investigations by the Confederation of British Industry, the business lobby group.

Allan “vehemently denies” three, the company said, adding that he has “relentlessly apologized” for another – a comment he made about a woman’s dress at an event in 2019.

One of the allegations related to Tesco’s annual meeting in 2022. The grocer said it had carried out an extensive review of the allegation and had not identified any evidence or complaints after the meeting.

Tesco has also asked external counsel to consider the scope of its review – which did not identify any evidence or complaints relating to his tenure as Tesco chair, the company added.

Grote says that while there is no complaints about Allan’s conduct, and the grocer found no wrongdoing, the allegations risked becoming a “disruption to Tesco.”

Allan, who will also chair Barratt Developments Plc, released a separate statement in which he said it was with “regret” that he was “before stepping down” from Tesco. He said the allegations, reported by the Guardian, were “baseless.”

He added: “I remain determined to prove my innocence.”

The CBI, headed by Allan as president from 2018 to 2020, was rocked by a scandal that saw two women make rape allegations against colleagues. The complaints against Allan are unrelated to these allegations.

Tesco stock was little changed in London trading.

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