Laurie McIlwee

Mcllwee was a key player at Tesco under former boss Philip Clarke

Former Tesco chief financial officer Laurie McIlwee is returning to grocery after becoming a special adviser for global technology investor Court Cavendish.

Under the move Mcllwee, who was a key player at Tesco under former boss Philip Clarke, will become chairman of Court Cavendish-backed Red Rickshaw, the UK’s largest online Asian grocer and world food recipe box provider.

Court Cavendish, whose investments include AirBnb, online GP consultation service DocTime and mobile game creator Gaming Realms, said it was looking for experts to “supercharge” its activities in special advisory roles, with McIlwee, who spent 14 years at Tesco including as CFO, fitting the bill.

Cavendish first backed Red Rickshaw in 2017, including the launch of a world foods recipe box subscription service, Feast Box, in January 2020.

It said Mcllwee would support Red Rickshaw to continue developing its proprietary technology, which uses data to optimise customer acquisition, retention and subscription.

“Laurie’s global corporate experiences and successes are unrivalled and mean Court Cavendish can provide greater support to a more diverse range of organisations,” said Court Cavendish founder Dr Chai Patel.

“This appointment, the first of several new special advisory roles, marks a new era for Court Cavendish that will supercharge how we support the companies we invest in to develop, grow and ultimately succeed in delivering innovative technology-based solutions.”

McIlwee, who prior to Tesco worked for PepsiCo in a variety of finance and general management roles and was chief financial officer of Walkers Snack Foods, said: “Having spent my career at some of the biggest names in food manufacturing and retailing, I was drawn to the opportunity to work with an entrepreneur of Chai’s calibre, and to work alongside him to advise a broad range of companies operating in sectors that are both new and well-known to me. It was a unique and exciting opportunity, and one I look forward to embracing.

“As part of this, leading the board of Red Rickshaw means I can return to the UK grocery market with the opportunity to support an excellent management team to further develop their proprietary automated customer and supply chain technology, which is at the forefront of how e-commerce and grocery retailing will evolve and develop over the coming years.”