One of Britain’s most senior boardroom figures is to replace John Allan at the helm of Tesco.

Sky News can exclusively reveal that Gerry Murphy, the chairman of Burberry and Tate & Lyle, has been chosen to replace Mr Allan, whose recent departure was hastened by a series of personal misconduct allegations.

Sources said Dr Murphy’s appointment was expected to be announced early next week, although it could be brought forward to this weekend as a result of its disclosure by Sky News.

Dr Murphy is also chairman of Burberry, the global luxury fashion brand, and Tate & Lyle, the ingredients maker.

He is expected to step down from Tate & Lyle, which he has led since 2016, in due course.

The City is expected to welcome his appointment at Tesco given the extent of his consumer and retail industry pedigree.

During his executive career, he ran Carlton Communications, the DIY retailer Kingfisher and the logistics group Exel – which was also run at one stage by Mr Allan.

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Dr Murphy has also worked at Blackstone, the private equity giant, and served on the boards of Abbey National, British American Tobacco and Reckitt Benckiser.

Mr Allan’s exit from Tesco had always been planned to take place in the next 12 months, but was accelerated when he became the subject of several unsubstantiated and anonymous claims about his behaviour.

It came as the CBI, the employers’ group where Mr Allan served a two-year term as president, was engulfed by sexual assault allegations which have brought it to the brink of collapse.

In a subsequent interview with Sky News’ Sophy Ridge, Mr Allan said Tesco and Barratt Developments, the housebuilder, had felt compelled “to propel me under the nearest bus”.

Sky News revealed in March that the supermarket chain had begun sounding out candidates to replace Mr Allan.

Lygon Group, the headhunter, has been working on the search with Byron Grote, Tesco’s acting chairman and senior independent director.

Mr Allan was due to step down next year, by which time he would have served for nearly a decade and be ‘timed out’ under corporate governance guidelines which mean that he would no longer be regarded as independent.

He was appointed as chairman of Tesco during the aftermath of the biggest crisis in the chain’s history, with the discovery of an accounting black hole which raised genuine questions about its survival.

Mr Allan arrived as the company scrambled to cut thousands of jobs, sell assets and shore up investor confidence.

Alongside Sir Dave Lewis, the then chief executive, he helped to stabilise the company, overseeing the sale of several large overseas businesses and rebuilding its market share in the UK.

In 2019, he oversaw the process of identifying Sir Dave’s successor, appointing former Boots executive Ken Murphy to replace him.

Tesco has steadily revived its domestic fortunes, and remains by far the largest food retailer in Britain.

Like its rivals, it has been grappling with the impact of the pandemic and, more recently, the rampant inflation which has gripped Britain’s economy.

In recent weeks the company, along with its peers, has been thrust into a fierce political debate about industry profiteering, with supermarket bosses quizzed this week by MPs about their pricing behaviour.

Its recovery has come during a period of seismic change in the industry, with Morrisons’ performance faltering, the German discounters Aldi and Lidl growing rapidly and Asda being sold to the billionaire Issa brothers and buyout firm TDR Capital.

On Friday, Tesco shares were trading at 260.8p, giving the company a market value of over £19bn.

Tesco and Tate & Lyle both declined to comment, while Burberry has been contacted for comment.


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