Image credit: Flickr/Walt Jabsco

Tesco share price sinks as another senior executive bites the dust

The latest in a line of signs the supermarket is in a funk: merchandise director Neela Mukherjee has quit. The phrase 'rats from a sinking ship' comes to mind.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 25 Jun 2014

The Crisis of the Supermarkets continues apace, as it was revealed that yet another senior executive has resigned from Tesco: merchandise director Neela Mukherjee resigned earlier this month, the supermarket has confirmed. That follows the departure of chief financial officer Laurie McIlwee in April. No wonder shares were down more than 1% in mid-morning trading.

Mukherjee decided to take her leave after an internal management shake-up in which group multichannel director (whatever that means) Robin Terell became head of general merchandise and 'grocery home shopping'. At the same time, health and wellbeing boss Jill Easterbrook became chief customer officer and marketing boss Matt Atkinson was handed the decidedly sexier title of 'chief creative officer'.

To be fair, Tesco's performance in general merchandise - basically homeware and electronics - hasn't been brilliant lately, although it has taken steps into the market with new products like Hudl, its tablet (which prompted an actually quite amusing April Fool's gag about the 'Cudl'), and it's rumoured to be planning its own smartphone later this year.

But there's still the small matter of the fact that criticisms of Tesco's recent performance are more biting than Luis Suarez. This week, both Fitch and Moody's cut the supermarket's credit rating - the ultimate diss.

And although rivals like Morrison's are suffering just as much from the March of the Discounters as Tesco, some (ie. Sainsbury's with its daring Netto tie-up) are finding ways to compete. Our hero, meanwhile, is relying on cutting prices, merrily slashing margins as it goes. A worrying strategy, given that chief executive Philip Clarke has himself admitted trying to compete with the discounters on price is a fool's errand.

Things aren't looking good. This could be Mukerjee's savviest career move yet.

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