Tesco also said that current trading conditions had been “more challenging” than anticipated. It added that sales and trading profit for the first half of the year were “somewhat below expectations”.
In June this year, Mr Clarke insisted that he was “not going anywhere” after a third quarter of falling sales. He added he was “going to see through a fundamental reshaping of Tesco”.
In the statement announcing his departure, Mr Clarke said: “Having taken the business through the huge challenges of the last few years, I think this is the right moment to hand over responsibility.”
Mr Clarke has led the firm since 2011. He will leave Tesco’s board on 1 October to be replaced by Dave Lewis, who is currently president of personal care at consumer goods firm Unilever. It is the first time Tesco has appointed someone from outside the firm to the position of chief executive.
In a statement, Tesco chairman Richard Broadbent said: “Philip Clarke agreed with the board that this is the appropriate moment to hand over to a new leader with fresh perspectives and a new profile. Dave Lewis brings a wealth of international consumer experience and expertise in change management, business strategy, brand management and customer development. He is already known to many people inside Tesco, having worked with the business over many years in his roles at Unilever.”
Earlier this year, Tesco’s finance director Laurie McIlwee resigned following 15 years with the company. Mr Clarke admitted last month that the store’s quarterly like-for-like sales, which fell by 3.7%, were the worst he had known in 40 years.
However, in the statement announcing Mr Clarke’s departure, Tesco said trading conditions were “more challenging than we anticipated” at the time of its trading update in June.
Tesco has faced competition from discount rivals including Aldi and Lidl as well as from more upmarket retailers such as Waitrose.