Tesco moves executive in controversial share sale

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The Independent Online

Tesco has handed a senior executive a new role just four weeks after he made more than £200,000 by selling shares shortly before its first profits warningin 20 years wiped £5bn off its market capitalisation.

The controversial share-sale by Noel "Bob" Robbins, UK chief operating officer, on 4 January raised City eyebrows as it came just eight days before the grocery giant's calamitous statement on its dire domestic Christmas trading and expectations of "minimal" profit growth next year.

Tesco said yesterday it had moved Mr Robbins, who had been in his previous role for less than a year, to work directly for the chief executive, Philip Clarke, "on a number of initiatives".

But Tesco said the change of role for him had nothing to do with the share transaction, adding it was about getting the right people into different areas of the business.

"As we move closer to the new financial year, I have reflected on the changing needs of the business and I have asked Bob Robbins to change his executive committee accountabilities," said Mr Clarke.

Richard Brasher, the UK chief executive of Tesco, said: "I would personally like to thank Bob for his contribution and support over the last year. His wealth of experience has improved our store operations and I look forward to working with him on delivering our strong investment plan over the coming year."

Mr Robbins will be succeeded as head of operations in the UK by Chris Bush, current boss of Tesco's Thailand business, who has been at Tesco for 29 years. John Christie, a 30-year Tesco veteran, is to take over from Bush in Thailand.

Mr Brasher said: "Last month we set out our determination to invest in the UK business. These changes give the UK board the combined strength of a very experienced leader of change and a talented country chief executive who has done an extraordinary jobin Thailand."