Was there ever a finance chief that felt more wanted by his new company?

New Tesco CFO Alan Stewart.

New Tesco CFO Alan Stewart.

Following the revelation that it had overstated first-half profits by 250 million British pounds ($410 million), Britain’s leading grocery retailer Tesco said its new finance director would start his job Tuesday, instead of December 1 as originally planned.

The executive, Alan Stewart, was hired by Tesco in July, but was still under a noncompete agreement with former employer Marks & Spencer, where he also had been finance director. According to the Financial Times, Tesco Chief Executive Dave Lewis worked out a deal with M&S CEO Marc Bolland that would allow Stewart to begin his post sooner than initially intended.

Tesco shareholders were clamoring for the move, reports the Financial Times, after revelations of accounting errors and an investigation into the matter by Deloitte and  law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Tesco’s previous finance director, Laurie McIlwee, resigned from Tesco in April, and according to the Wall Street Journal the company ‘s finances were “being run directly by the CEO’s office.”

On Monday, as shares in Tesco dipped 12% to their lowest level in 11 years, four senior Tesco executives were asked to step down as a result of the accounting misstatement. On Tuesday, the stock continued to nosedive, tanking an additional 3.7%.

The news of Tesco’s profit overstatement comes as consumer research group Kantar Worldpanel posted that Tesco sales were down 4.5% in the three months leading to September 14, its steepest decline since Kantar began to compile data on it.

Source: Financial Times: Tesco parachutes in new finance director early

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