Tesco is preparing for the departure of its finance director Laurie McIlwee amid tensions with its chief executive Philip Clarke, Sky News has reported.

McIlwee, who has acted as chief financial officer since 2009, could leave the grocer within months.

Tesco is understood to have held discussions at a senior level about McIlwee’s position since an investor presentation late last month where the under pressure grocer ditched a key profit margin target.

McIlwee is said to have an uncomfortable working relationship with Clarke, according to Sky News.

Last autumn, The Financial Times quoted an unnamed top 20 shareholder in Tesco as saying there were “worries” about McIlwee who they said was “very abrasive and is not communicating very well with shareholders”.

McIwee has been at Tesco since 2000 when he was finance director of its UK business. Beforehand he worked for PepsiCo.

A formal search for a new finance director is not yet thought to be underway, but sources said that McIlwee’s exit was now “more likely than not” at some stage this year.

Tesco has come under pressure of late with discounters such as Aldi and Lidl eating its market share. Like-for-likes dipped 2.4% during its Christmas trading period.