Alan Stewart

Chief Financial Officer at Tesco

About

Alan Stewart is the Chief Financial Officer of UK supermarket chain Tesco, and sits on the company’s board and executive committee. He started in his role in 2014, having worked in executive positions for big-name British companies Marks & Spencer, WHSmith, and Thomas Cook.


Mr Stewart joined Tesco in September 2014, with the supermarket giant in what was labelled an accounting crisis. Tesco had announced it had overstated its half year profit by £250 million, which led to more than £2.2 billion being wiped from its value on the share market. He had initially signed to start at Tesco at the end of 2014, but his start date was moved forward in order to help the company manage its financial difficulties. Tesco was later fined £200 by the Serious Fraud Office for prematurely booking back-margin payments in its accounts.


Mr Stewart arrived at Tesco with a reputation for cost-cutting. He had significant corporate finance and accounting experience in retail, banking and travel industries. He was hailed by analyst Caroline Gulliver as a “cost-cutting supremo”, and his skills would quickly be put to work by the challenges Tesco faced.


Along with new Chief Executive Dave Lewis, Mr Stewart was influential in turning around the fortunes of Tesco. More than 40 branches were sold off, as were non-core operations in restaurants, garden centers, and coffee stores. Tesco went from making a more than £6 billion loss in 2015, to a £2 billion profit 2019.


Prior to his role at Tesco, Mr Stewart was CFO at Marks & Spencer from 2010-2014. The role was considered one of the most sought-after positions in UK retailing, though his time with M&S was also not straightforward: the business recorded 12 consecutive drops in non-food sales during his tenure. However, Mr Stewart had earned a strong reputation during his time as group finance director of bookseller WHSmith from 2005-2008, where he helped to trim the business to focus on its core, high-margin products in books, magazines and stationery. He moved from WHSmith to become chief executive of AWAS, an aircraft leasing company, from 2008-2010.


Before that, Mr Stewart worked in a range of roles for travel agent Thomas Cook Holdings, where he started in 1998, and progressed through to being chief financial officer, and chief executive of its UK division, from 2001-2005. Born in South Africa and educated at the University of Cape Town, Mr Stewart started his career as an accountant with Deloitte in his home country, before moving to the UK as an investment banker with HSBC.


Mr Stewart is also a non-executive director of Diageo and Tesco Bank, a member of the Advisory Board of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, and chairman of the pension committee of the 100 Group of Finance Directors, as well as a member of the main committee. He was previously a non-executive director of Games Workshop Group.

Timeline

  • Chief Financial Officer

    Current role

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