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Tesco bank boss Andrew Higginson quits

Andrew Higginson, long-serving director who masterminded the supermarket’s move into banking, will resign next year

Andrew Higginson, the long-serving Tesco director who has spearheaded the British group’s charge into banking, is to quit the supermarket.

Along with former chief executive Sir Terry Leahy, Higginson is one of the directors credited with transforming the UK supermarket chain into the world’s third-largest retailer. He was group finance and strategy director for 11 years but moved to lead the retailing services division, which includes Tesco Bank, at the start of 2009.

Tesco said Higginson had informed the company of his intention to retire from the board and executive committee on 1 September 2012. In a statement Higginson said: “I have had a wonderful career with Tesco, and am very proud of the part I have played in the company’s success. Next year, I will be 55 and will have completed 15 years on the board.”

Higginson’s departure continues the changing of the guard at Tesco, set in motion by the retirement of Leahy in March after 14 years as chief executive. The supermarket’s chairman, David Reid, is also retiring and is being replaced by Sir Richard Broadbent, Barclays’ deputy chairman, in November.

In 2008 Tesco bought RBS’s 50% stake in Tesco Personal Finance for £950m and Higginson has been working with the bank’s chief executive, Benny Higgins, to install a new IT system and win the regulatory approval that is required to enable it to offer mortgages, in competition with high street lenders, for the first time this year.

“We will have completed the creation of the bank as a standalone entity, and that seems an appropriate moment to hand over, and move on to the next phase of my career,” said Higginson of his departure next autumn.

Shore Capital analyst Darren Shirley said Higginson’s leaving was a “surprise” and a “loss” for the business: “He worked in a period under the leadership of chief executive Sir Terry Leahy that transformed the business from a domestic grocer into a truly multichannel and international business.”

Tesco had a large talent pool to draw from to replace him, added Shirley, but said: “Losing someone of Higginson’s capability and experience can only be regarded as a loss to the business.”

Tesco’s chief executive, Philip Clarke, said that Higginson had been an “outstanding” finance and strategy director: “I respect Andy’s decision to move on and am grateful that he has given me sufficient notice to effect proper succession planning.”

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