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Tesco recruits Kingfisher's Bruce Marsh as finance chief

Tesco store and Giraffe

Tesco has turned to the owner of B&Q to identify a finance chief for its home market as it rebuilds after the trading scandal which was partly responsible for one of the biggest ever losses in UK corporate history.

Sky News has learnt that Tesco has recruited Bruce Marsh, who led an energy efficiency initiative called Future Homes at Kingfisher, the FTSE-100 DIY retailer, to fill a vacancy created when Carl Rogberg left last year.

Mr Rogberg was one of around nine Tesco executives who were suspended last autumn when a whistleblower alerted the supermarket giant's management to irregularities in the accounting of income from suppliers.

Some of the managers were subsequently reinstated, although Mr Rogberg was not among them, and he left Tesco in December.

Investors have been concerned about the relative lack of retail experience in its domestic operations, with the new UK chief executive, Matt Davies, due to take up his role next week.

Mr Marsh, who is expected to start shortly as Tesco's UK finance director, was previously group strategy director at Kingfisher and before that held a number of senior finance roles at Dixons Retail.

Sources said that Kingfisher had decided to wind down Future Homes as a separate entity towards the end of last year and incorporate its operations into B&Q’s day-to-day activities.

His appointment was announced internally by Alan Stewart, Tesco's chief financial officer, last month, according to insiders.

The role had been covered on an interim basis by Jo Hartley.

The news of Mr Marsh's recruitment has emerged on the same day that grocery industry data published by Kantar Worldpanel revealed that Tesco saw sales decline by 1% during the 12 weeks to April 26.

That will come as a blow to Dave Lewis, the company's chief executive, who expressed confidence at its recent full-year results announcement that his transformation plan was beginning to yield results.

On Wednesday, J Sainsbury announced its first annual loss for a decade as it followed its larger rival in slashing the value of its real estate portfolio.

Huge writedowns prompted Tesco to disclose a £6.4bn loss last week, the sixth-biggest in British company history.

Mr Lewis acknowledged that the turnaround was likely to take several years as Tesco sought to rebuild its reputation for service, quality and price competitiveness among UK shoppers.

The last financial year saw Tesco forced into a string of profit warnings as trading continued to deteriorate, costing Mr Lewis's predecessor, Philip Clarke, his job.

Last autumn's profit overstatement was recently revised up to more than £300m, and sparked a series of inquiries led by the Serious Fraud Office, the accounting watchdog and the Groceries Code Adjudicator.

Neither Mr Rogberg nor his colleagues who left in the wake of the issue have been accused of any wrongdoing.

In January, Mr Lewis outlined proposals to relocate Tesco's head office, close dozens of stores and terminate its defined benefit pension scheme in an effort to save costs.

He also plans to sell a stake in Dunnhumby, its customer loyalty arm, and has introduced a long-term price-cutting initiative across hundreds of core grocery items.

A cull of head office staff has triggered heavy job cuts although these have been more than countered in numerical terms by the creation of thousands of in-store roles.

Source : Mark Kleinmann - Sky News

07 May 2015

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