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Burberry chair Murphy lined up to replace Allan at helm of Tesco | Business News

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.

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.

UK meat industry and supermarkets including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons ‘causing illegal deforestation in the Amazon’ | World News

The UK meat industry and the supermarkets it supplies are continuing to cause illegal deforestation in the Amazon, according to a new investigation into the supply chain of Brazilian soya beans used to feed British livestock.

Clearing land for cattle and soya beans is a key driver of deforestation in the Amazon.

In 2022 nearly 12,000 square kilometres of the Amazon were destroyed, equivalent to four football fields of forest lost every second.

But joining the dots between the destruction and consumers thousands of miles away is obscured by the complex supply chains that make up our global food industry.

The investigation by environmental groups Mighty Earth, Reporter Brazil and Ecostorm combines satellite data with observations on the ground showing evidence of a direct link between illegal deforestation in the Amazon and supplies of soya beans shipped from Brazil to the UK by US commodities giant Cargill.

“If Cargill, the biggest privately-owned US company, wants to be part of the solution to the climate and nature crisis, it needs to source from suppliers farming on previously degraded land, of which there are 1.6 billion acres in Latin America, alone. Not from those who are still torching forests,” said Glenn Hurowitz, CEO of Mighty Earth.

The report identifies the Santa Ana farm in Brazil’s Mato Grosso state on which 400 hectares of forest were burned last year – an area the researchers estimate would have contained 220,000 trees.

The farm supplies soya to Cargill, which exports the beans via Brazil’s Santarem port to locations around the world, including directly to the UK.

Following an investigation by Brazilian authorities into previous illegal deforestation on the farm, Cargill removed it from the list of its approved suppliers, however it was reinstated by the company in 2022.

Around 70% of the UK’s soya is imported by Cargill and 75% of Cargill’s soya comes into the country from Santarem port in Brazil.

Soya is a key ingredient in animal feed, particularly for intensively farmed chickens and pigs. Once soya is shipped to feed mills, tracing that which may be linked to illegal deforestation becomes almost impossible.

However, one of the UK producers with the greatest exposure to the Brazilian soya is Avara foods – the UK’s largest chicken producer, which is part-owned by Cargill and is directly supplied with feed by them.

Read more:
Amazon being destroyed ‘on an industrial scale’
Brazil moves to pave way through heart of Amazon rainforest
Deforestation in Brazilian Amazon reaches highest level since 2006

Avara produces 4.5 million chickens and turkeys a week in the UK.

Avara supplies many leading supermarkets and suppliers including Tesco, Asda, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, McDonald’s, KFC and Nando’s.

This latest report singles out Tesco as the UK’s largest supermarket chain whose own-brand chicken is supplied by Avara.

“Our investigation shows Tesco is a basket of problems for the Amazon,” said Gemma Hoskins, UK director at Mighty Earth.

“While the UK’s top retailer reaps massive profits, it continues to do business with known forest destroyers such as Cargill, adding fuel to the fire of Amazon deforestation, harming the health of local communities, and decimating wildlife and precious habitats.”

UK food retailers like Tesco are signatories to the UK Soy Manifesto which committed them to ensure their supply chains were “deforestation- and conversion-free” by 2020, with a further commitment to stop sourcing from suppliers linked to deforestation or land conversion by 2025.

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Destruction of the Amazon rainforest

In a statement, Tesco told Sky News: “We take any accusation of deforestation and conversion occurring anywhere within our supply chain extremely seriously and we immediately asked Cargill for clarification on the matter and to remove the identified farm from their supply chain until a full investigation can be carried out.”

Chicken producer Avara said that is has sourced soya certified as “deforestation and conversion-free” since 2019.

“Clearly, the challenge is that there are still non-certified farms growing soya in high risk areas and a demand for their produce,” it said in a statement.

It added: “We accept that, for all our progress, there is still work to do if we are to achieve our 2025 goal. We will play our part, working collaboratively with others in the sector and beyond, but we also know that this will not be enough, if others do not also make similar commitments.”

Cargill, which has previously faced criticism for sourcing soya from areas linked to deforestation in the Amazon and other parts of South America, said: “Based on new allegations, in accordance with our grievance process we have initiated an additional investigation of [Santa Ana Farm’s] 2022 operations and if we find any violations of our policies and commitments, the supplier will be immediately blocked from our supply chain, as expressed in our Supplier Code of Conduct.”

Big retailers report Christmas progress as Tesco claims win over premium grocers | Business News

Tesco says it is the only one of the major chains to have grown its market share versus pre-pandemic levels over Christmas, claiming it took business from rivals with the exception of the discounters.

The UK’s biggest retailer said like-for-like sales rose 4.3% in its third quarter to 26 November and were up 7.2% in the six weeks to 7 January.

Grocery rival M&S said its like for like food sales were up by 6.3% on the same basis over the 13 weeks to 31 December.

M&S said its clothing & home offering – long a drag on the group’s performance – enjoyed its highest market share for seven years with sales up by 8.6%.

Both Tesco and M&S, however, maintained their annual profit guidance.

One big name to reveal Christmas trouble was online fashion retailer asos.

It reported a 3% fall in revenue during the four months to the end of December, driven by an 8% plunge in UK sales over the four weeks to Christmas.

It blamed weak consumer sentiment and earlier cut-off dates for Christmas deliveries due to delivery problems caused by the Royal Mail strikes.

FILE PHOTO: A model walks on an in-house catwalk at the ASOS headquarters in London April 1, 2014. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/File Photo
Asos said sales plunged ahead of Christmas versus a strong comparison with the previous year

Halfords, the motoring and cycling chain, cut the range of its annual profit outlook to between £50m and £60m, from £65m to £75m.

It blamed soft demand for tyres and bikes. The company also warned that a failure to recruit enough skilled technicians at its auto-centres business would have an impact on the final quarter of its financial year.

The firms are the latest to report on their progress after a tough festive season for family budgets – squeezed by the energy-led cost of living crisis.

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Food inflation reaches record levels

The overall picture for retailers’ performance ahead of Thursday’s trading updates has been one of resilience, however, suggesting that shoppers were prepared to relax the purse strings for Christmas amid record food inflation.

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It has led retail groups to express caution over consumer demand for the months ahead, while financial analysts have also questioned the extent to which company profitability has risen in line with sales.

While inflation has generally driven a surge in sales values in the company updates to date, retailers have given little away on their margins and growth in the volume of sales – the amount of goods sold.

That said, Sainsbury’s and JD Sports both adjusted upwards the guidance on their annual profit expectations on Wednesday.

Next and B&M did the same last week.

Another trend to have emerged over Christmas included a dive in online sales – possibly wholly explained by the impact of strikes at Royal Mail – with more visits to physical stores replacing some of that retail space.

Shares in both Tesco and asos opened 1.5% down while M&S stock fell by 2.6%.

Halfords suffered through a 12.8% plunge.

Commenting on Tesco’s sales figures Sophie Lund-Yates, lead equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “For all the progress, there is an elephant in the room.

“A large proportion of success is coming down to discounting. Things like Aldi Price Match and price freezes are very successful tactics, but can spell bad news for margins.”

“Supermarkets had only recently rediscovered their footing before the pandemic, following years of margin degradation from an all-out price war.

“Soaring inflation and the pressure on customer spending power means history is repeating itself. The tug of war between pricing and volumes is clearly producing a good result, which is why profit expectations have been reiterated, but it’s still hardly an ideal state of affairs for the big names in industry.”