Tesco has confirmed its veteran chief financial officer Laurie McIlwee has resigned from the grocer.

Tesco said McIlwee has agreed to “remain in his role to ensure a smooth handover to his successor”.

The grocer said it is “commencing a process to find a new Chief Financial Officer with both internal and external applicants being considered”.

McIlwee said: “I am proud of what we have achieved at Tesco over the last few years.  However, after 14 years at Tesco I feel that now is the right time for me to pursue new opportunities.  I wish Philip and the team well and I am absolutely confident that Tesco will emerge from the current period of unprecedented change in the industry stronger than ever.”

Tesco chairman Sir Richard Broadbent said: “I would like to thank Laurie for his contribution to Tesco over the last 14 years.  Together with Philip and the wider team, Laurie has played an important role in our process to transform Tesco and position it to be a winner in the new era of retailing.  I and the Board wish him every success for the future.”

McIlwee is thought to have disagreed with chief executive Philip Clarke over some areas of strategy.

McIlwee also attracted criticism from investors in October when Tesco surprised the markets with a fall in profits in its central European operations, which the finance chief had not flagged.