Tesco chairman John Allan to step down after ‘inappropriate’ behaviour claims

Supermarket giant said allegations over the conduct of Kirkcaldy-raised Allan 'risk becoming a distraction'.

Fife-educated Tesco chairman John Allan to step down after ‘inappropriate’ behaviour claims Bloomberg / Contributor via Getty Images

The Fife-educated chairman of supermarket giant Tesco is to step down from his position amid allegations over his personal conduct.

John Allan, who has spent eight years at the helm of the company, will leave at the company’s shareholder meeting next month.

The supermarket said it made “no findings of wrongdoing” against Allan, whose tenure was coming to an end anyway.

But it said allegations over his personal conduct “risk becoming a distraction”.

Allan grew up in Kirkcaldy, Fife, and went to the town’s St Andrew’s High School. He entered the retail trade after graduating in mathematics from Edinburgh University in the early 1970s.

His appointment as Tesco boss in 2015 appeared to be a timely boost for campaigners fighting to save a branch of the supermarket in Kirkcaldy town centre.

But it was not to be as Kirkcaldy’s Tesco closed in April of that year despite pleas from politicians – including former prime minister Gordon Brown – and members of the community.

Earlier this month, The Guardian said it had been approached by four women claiming Allan’s behaviour had been inappropriate or unprofessional.

The newspaper said that Mr Allan allegedly touched a senior staff member’s bottom at last year’s shareholder meeting.

He was also accused of touching the bottom of a member of staff at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in May 2019.

Mr Allan, 74, was previously president of the CBI, which has been rocked by multiple sexual misconduct allegations in recent months.

The CBI’s director general and staff members at the trade body have been fired after more than a dozen women came forward alleging they had been the victims of bad behaviour.

Mr Allan denied three of the allegations against him and apologised for the fourth.

One claim was to do with last year’s annual general meeting (AGM).

Tesco, which investigated the allegation, said on Friday: “This review has not identified any evidence or complaints in relation to John at the Tesco 2022 AGM or at all in his tenure as Tesco chair.”

Board member Byron Grote said: “John has made a valuable contribution to Tesco during his eight years as chair.

“He has successfully led the board through the turnaround and Covid whilst helping to rebuild the business.

“While we have received no complaints about John’s conduct and made no findings of wrongdoing, these allegations risk becoming a distraction to Tesco.

“On behalf of the board, I thank him for his substantial contribution to the business.

“We are well advanced in our search for a new chair and will make an announcement in due course.”

Mr Grote will serve as interim chairman until someone can be found to do the job full time.

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