Cescau has been group chief executive of Unilever since 2005 and has held various positions within the group since joining in 1973. He retired from Unilever at the beginning of this month. He has also been a non-executive director of media group Pearson since 2002.
Tesco chairman David Reid said: “I am delighted that Patrick is joining the Tesco board. He is highly esteemed in the business world and brings with him many years' experience of both developed and emerging markets. His international perspective and knowledge of consumer goods will be very valuable to our Board."