The Week Ahead: Tesco's Clarke can expect tough questions from shareholders on Friday


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The Independent Online

Tesco will hold its annual general meeting this week after what has been a difficult few months for the struggling grocer. Its shares are at a 10-year low, customers are deserting its stores and price cuts are hitting the bottom line.

The under fire chief executive Philip Clarke can expect some tough questions from shareholders on Friday about how he plans to turn the supermarket around and make them a decent return.

At last year’s meeting, the former boss Lord MacLaurin criticised Mr Clarke’s predecessor Sir Terry Leahy and, since then, Sir Terry has called Mr Clarke’s reign disappointing.

Some major shareholders have also been expressing concern to the chairman, Sir Richard Broadbent, and other non-executives.

Another company under the spotlight is Royal Bank of Scotland, the part-nationalised lender which ran into difficulties during the financial crisis. The bank hosts its annual general meeting in Edinburgh on Wednesday, which is unlikely to be as stormy as some in the past although the shareholder advisory firm Pensions and Investment Research Consultants has advised shareholders to vote against its long-term incentive plan.

The transport giant Stagecoach, whose Virgin Trains joint venture won an extension to its West Coast mainline franchise last week, is expected to report a 5 per cent rise in full-year profits to £180m on Wednesday, according to Investec.

Carphone Warehouse and Dixons Retail, the mobile phone and electronics retail giants, are expected to reveal more details of their £3.6bn merger to create Dixons Carphone when the pair post their full-year results on Thursday.

Analysts at Exane BNP Paribas expect Carphone to report earnings up from £137m a year ago to £150m, while Dixons has already said its underlying profits should be at the top of City expectations of £150m-£160m.

Strong sterling and supply chain problems are expected to weigh on the Airfix to model trains company Hornby once again when it posts full-year result on Friday. Hornby warned in April it was on course to post a £1m loss.