Tesco director of corporate and legal affairs Lucy Neville-Rolfe is to retire from its board after 14 years with the company.

The former Cabinet Office employee is to step down from the board in January 2013.

Since joining the grocery giant in 1997, Neville-Rolfe has dealt with three large-scale inquiries into supermarkets from the Competition Commission and is seen as a key figurehead in the business.

Neville-Rolfe’s role will be split into two positions, no longer on the main board. The legal element of her role is expected to be filled internally while the search has already started for the corporate affairs role.

In June, Retail Week described Neville-Rolfe as “the power behind the throne in Cheshunt” in naming her 40th in the annual Retail Week Power List.

Her Power List 2011 entry said: “A close confidant of former Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy, the former Whitehall strategist remains the power behind the throne in Cheshunt.

“It will be interesting to see how hew role evolves under new boss Philip Clarke, but issues ranging from the riots at the Stokes Croft store in Bristol to controversy over boardroom pay at Tesco have been a reminder her diplomatic skills are needed more than ever.”

Neville-Rolfe is a non-executive director at ITV and deputy chairman of the BRC.