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Tesco CIO resigns

Colin Cobain is leaving the retail giant after six years to pursue fresh challenges in either the public sector or another industry

Tesco's IT chief is stepping down from the retail giant after six years to pursue a new challenge.

Group IT director Colin Cobain is leaving at the end of November after leading the IT implementation behind Tesco's first US stores, which opened in Los Angeles this month.

Cobain plans to take a break to consider his future options and told silicon.com he is looking for a chief information role in either the public sector or another industry.

Cobain said: "I wouldn't want another retail role. It's hard to see where you could go from here."

Cobain, who was recently voted "CIO of the Year", joined Tesco in 2001 and was responsible for setting and managing the focus of the IT division and leading the development of the retail giant's IT strategy in line with its aggressive and ambitious global growth plans.

A key part of this global expansion is the standardisation of business processes and IT systems across Tesco in a project called "the operating model", which Cobain explained in a recent interview with silicon.com.

Tesco's success over the past decade has been nothing short of phenomenal, with record profits breaking the £2bn mark. Chief executive Sir Terry Leahy has publicly praised the role technology has played in the supermarket chain's transformation into a global general merchandise retailer.

The retailer has also been at the leading edge of the testing and exploitation of RFID technologies in the retail sector, using RFID both in-store and in the supply chain.

The company would not comment on a replacement for Cobain's role or on whether there will be a restructuring of the executive IT team. A Tesco spokesman told silicon.com: "Colin is seeking a new challenge outside Tesco and we're thankful for his significant contribution to the IT infrastructure at Tesco and wish him well for the future."

Cobain started his IT career at the Mars Group after gaining a degree in Computational and Statistical Science at Liverpool University. In 1990 he became IT director at Rumbelows and then joined the Kingfisher Group, where he spent time on the boards of both Superdrug and Woolworths. It was at Woolworths that Cobain launched the world's first national interactive digital TV store.

Cobain is the latest in a series of high-profile CIO departures from organisations including the AA, Diageo, Post Office and Royal Mail.