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Commentary: Why the Tesco boss is a hero and how banks will be blamed for bad covid loans | London Evening Standard

Alan Stewart should be applauded from the battlefield which was Tesco’s finance department by staff and shareholders.

Given how the UK’s largest grocer (along with its rivals) calmly fed the country during the biggest supply crisis in decades, it’s easy to forget how catastrophic this business was when ‘he joined six years ago.

Tesco was making the biggest losses ever on the High Street and had been monstrously overly optimistic in its accounts.

Sometimes he seemed to have made suppliers pay as much for the privilege of appearing on his shelves as he did to sell merchandise to the public.

Together with CEO Dave Lewis, Stewart flushed out the £ 263million accounting scandal and cleaned up, from top to bottom, the way Tesco behaved and reported on its work.

r – after the £ 8bn sale of his Asian guns – his successor will inherit a financially strong company with a relatively healthy retirement and the prospect of paying big dividends.

It’s not often that we celebrate the numbers, man. But this one deserves it.

Banks have warned us covid loans won’t work, but let’s denigrate them anyway

Jungle drums are already starting to hit banks over Covid bailouts.

Policymakers are now realizing – as banks have always warned – that many companies that take out Covid loans will not be able to repay them. Especially SMEs with bounce loans that had virtually no underwriting and were supposed to be 100% government guaranteed.

These should have been grants, not loans, from the start – better to give a grant to run a business than to pay social assistance when it goes bankrupt.

Now watch the banks being forced to bear the losses they were promised would not be theirs. How? ‘Or’ What? By being strongly armed to finance defaulting “public-private” loan funds. Witness the Business Growth Fund’s kite today.

A word of warning. Banks weren’t the bottomless profit pits of yesteryear. Keep tapping into the well, and the healthy business loan tap will run out.

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