Another top Tesco executive heads for the exit

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The Independent Online

Tesco has suffered the loss of another senior executive, dealing a blow to the grocery giant that is expected to post a further decline in its underlying UK sales next week.

Per Bank, the commercial director of non-food on Tesco's UK board, is heading back to his native Denmark to become the chief executive of the country's Dansk Supermarket chain.

Nigel Jones, Tesco's UK distribution director, will replace him as commercial director for general merchandise and clothing.

Mr Bank's exit next month is ahead of the departure of other senior executives – including its chief executive of retailing services Andrew Higginson, the executive director of corporate and legal affairs Lucy Neville-Rolfe, and the head of its Asian operation David Potts – over the next 12 months. Another stalwart Dido Harding left the supermarket last year to become Marks & Spencer's executive director of e-commerce.

The revolving door at Tesco comes at a testing time for its chief executive Philip Clarke, who took the helm in March 2011 after the retirement of Sir Terry Leahy.

The group, which has operations in 14 countries, posts its Christmas trading update next week. Analysts at Deutsche Bank have pencilled in an "accelerated" decline in Tesco's UK like-for-like sales, excluding VAT and petrol. They forecast a fall of 2 per cent in the grocer's UK underlying sales for the six weeks to7 January, compared with a 0.9 per cent drop in its third and second quarters. But Tesco's total sales on these shores will be higher.