Tesco chair John Allan is set to step down from the grocery giant next month following allegations of inappropriate behaviour, which the grocer said threatened to become a “distraction”.

In a statement, Tesco said Allan “vigorously denied” three of the allegations, and had “unreservedly apologised for the comment he made” with the fourth.

The grocer said that, in regards to one allegation stemming from its 2022 annual meeting, Tesco had “immediately instigated an extensive review of the allegation”, including inviting colleagues to come forward internally, contacting attendees of the meeting and looking at available video footage of the meeting and internal complaints.

Tesco said, following the review, it “has not identified any evidence or complaints in relation to John [Allan] at the Tesco AGM or at all in his tenure as Tesco chair”.

Allan had been chair of Tesco since 2015 and was due to step down at the end of the year. Tesco said a “success planning process had already been initiated over recent months and is expected to conclude in the near future”.

Byron Grote, who is currently the chair of Tesco’s audit committee, has been appointed interim chair to see out the process of finding a permanent successor.

He was replaced as chair of the audit committee by Karen Whitworth, while his position as a senior independent director will be taken by Stewart Gilliland.

The retailer said Gilliland will now lead the process to appoint a permanent chair.

Grote said: “John has made a valuable contribution to Tesco during his eight years as chair. He has successfully led the board through the turnaround and Covid whilst helping to rebuild the business. While we have received no complaints about John’s conduct and made no findings of wrongdoing, these allegations risk becoming a distraction to Tesco.

“On behalf of the board, I thank him for his substantial contribution to the business. We are well advanced in our search for a new chair and will make an announcement in due course.”