Tesco’s chairman John Allan has announced that he will step down from his role next month, following allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards several women. Allan, who has been leading the board of the UK’s largest supermarket chain since 2015, denied three of the four allegations made against him in the media, and apologised for the fourth one, which involved making a comment on a woman’s figure.
Allan’s decision to leave comes amid a wider scandal involving the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), where he previously served as president and vice president. The CBI has been accused of failing to address multiple cases of sexual misconduct by its former director general and other staff members. Allan was alleged to have touched the bottoms of two women at CBI events in 2019.
Tesco said that it conducted an extensive review of one of the allegations related to its annual general meeting (AGM) in 2022, and found no evidence or complaints to support it. However, the company said that the allegations over Allan’s personal conduct “risk becoming a distraction” to its business and customers.
Byron Grote, a senior independent director at Tesco, will take over as interim chairman until a permanent replacement is appointed. Grote praised Allan for his valuable contribution to Tesco during his eight years as chairman, and said that he helped to turn around the company and rebuild its reputation.
Allan expressed his regret for having to step down prematurely, and said that he was proud of what he had achieved at Tesco. He also reiterated that the allegations against him were “utterly baseless” and that he would defend his reputation vigorously.