Tesco CEO Philip Clarke this week hailed his “formidable” top team and the retailer’s readiness to “act fast” to solve its problems, after signalling a retreat from the US and the departure of yet another senior board member.

After months of speculation, Clarke revealed Tesco was “likely” to exit America, announcing a review that would lead to the sale, closure or offer of stake in its struggling Fresh & Easy business.

Clarke admitted the decision had been made primarily because he could not come up with a case to convince shareholders its US operation would deliver a profit in an acceptable timeframe.

“We gave the business the best shot,” he said. “This will allow us to focus on the more profitable parts of the business.”

Clarke said the departure of Fresh & Easy CEO Tim Mason, also deputy chief executive of Tesco and a veteran of 30 years, was a “sad day”, but he added: “I have got a formidable team around me and Tesco has a history of bringing in top talent.”